Integrating an integrin: a direct route to actin

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Jul 5;1692(2-3):47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2004.04.011.


Integrins were so named for their ability to link the extracellular and intracellular skeletons. Now almost 20 years into integrin research, numerous questions remain as to how this interaction is accomplished and how it is modified to achieve a desired phenotype. As the cell adhesion and actin assembly fields are merging in combined approaches, novel actin assembly mechanisms are being uncovered. Some of the earliest identified cytoplasmic linker molecules, believed to mediate integrin-actin binding, are once again the subject of scrutiny as potential dynamic mediators of cell anchorage. It seems plausible that each unique cellular morphology occurs as the result of activation of distinct actin assembly systems that are either stabilized by unique bundling and linker proteins or modified for progression to a new phenotype. While this research initiative is likely to continue rapidly in a forward fashion, it remains to be clarified how integrins assemble the most stable and basic cytoskeletal phenotype, the adherent cell with prominent stress fibers. Recent investigations point towards a shift in the current model of anchoring at the cell periphery by providing both mechanisms and evidence for de novo actin assembly orchestrated by the adhesion site. Lacking a complete pathway from integrin ligation to an integrated extracellular-intracellular skeleton in any single system, this review proposes a simple model of integrin-mediated stress fiber integration by drawing from work in multiple systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / physiology*
  • Models, Molecular


  • Actins
  • Integrins