Caldesmon is an actin-binding protein that is capable of stabilizing actin filaments against actin-severing proteins, inhibiting actomyosin ATPase activity, and inhibiting Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization in vitro. Caldesmon is a substrate of cdc2 kinase and Erk1/2 MAPK, and phosphorylation by either of these kinases reverses the inhibitory effects of caldesmon. Cdc2-mediated caldesmon phosphorylation and the resulting dissociation of caldesmon from actin filaments are essential for M-phase progression during mitosis. Cells overexpressing the actin-binding carboxyterminal fragment of caldesmon fail to release the fragment completely from actin filaments during mitosis, resulting in a higher frequency of multinucleated cells. PKC-mediated MEK/Erk/caldesmon phosphorylation is an important signaling cascade in the regulation of smooth muscle contraction. Furthermore, PKC activation has been shown to remodel actin stress fibers into F-actin-enriched podosome columns in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. Podosomes are cytoskeletal adhesion structures associated with the release of metalloproteases and degradation of extracellular matrix during cell invasion. Interestingly, caldesmon is one of the few actin-binding proteins that is associated with podosomes but excluded from focal adhesions. Caldesmon also inhibits the function of gelsolin and Arp2/3 complex that are essential for the formation of podosomes. Thus, caldesmon appears to be well positioned for playing a modulatory role in the formation of podosomes. Defining the roles of actin filament-stabilizing proteins such as caldesmon and tropomyosin in the formation of podosomes should provide a more complete understanding of molecular systems that regulate the remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton in cell transformation and invasion.