The comings and goings of actin: coupling protrusion and retraction in cell motility

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2005 Oct;17(5):517-23. doi: 10.1016/


Cells utilize actin filaments to produce protrusive and contractile arrays that cooperate to drive cell motility. The generation of the two arrays and the coupling between them result from the unique properties of the lamellipodium, a protrusive leaflet of cytoplasm at the cell edge. From the lamellipodium into the lamella behind, there is a transition from a fast retrograde flow of actin polymer driven by polymerization to a slow flow driven by the interaction of anti-parallel arrays of actin with myosin. In addition to driving protrusion, the lamellipodium appears to play a role in supplying filaments to the lamella for the assembly of the contractile network required for traction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Fishes
  • Focal Adhesions / physiology
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Models, Biological
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism


  • Actins