Mechanism of depolymerization and severing of actin filaments and its significance in cytoskeletal dynamics

Int Rev Cytol. 2007;258:1-82. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7696(07)58001-0.


The actin cytoskeleton is one of the major structural components of the cell. It often undergoes rapid reorganization and plays crucial roles in a number of dynamic cellular processes, including cell migration, cytokinesis, membrane trafficking, and morphogenesis. Actin monomers are polymerized into filaments under physiological conditions, but spontaneous depolymerization is too slow to maintain the fast actin filament dynamics observed in vivo. Gelsolin, actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin, and several other actin-severing/depolymerizing proteins can enhance disassembly of actin filaments and promote reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. This review presents advances as well as a historical overview of studies on the biochemical activities and cellular functions of actin-severing/depolymerizing proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / chemistry*
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors / chemistry
  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors / metabolism*
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena
  • Humans


  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors
  • Actins