The actin cytoskeleton in T cell activation

Annu Rev Immunol. 2008;26:233-59. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.26.021607.090347.


T cell cytoarchitecture differs dramatically depending on whether the cell is circulating within the bloodstream, migrating through tissues, or interacting with antigen-presenting cells. The transition between these states requires important signaling-dependent changes in actin cytoskeletal dynamics. Recently, analysis of actin-regulatory proteins associated with T cell activation has provided new insights into how T cells control actin dynamics in response to external stimuli and how actin facilitates downstream signaling events and effector functions. Among the actin-regulatory proteins that have been identified are nucleation-promoting factors such as WASp, WAVE2, and HS1; severing proteins such as cofilin; motor proteins such as myosin II; and linker proteins such as ezrin and moesin. We review the current literature on how signaling pathways leading from diverse cell surface receptors regulate the coordinated activity of these and other actin-regulatory proteins and how these proteins control T cell function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, Immunologic / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*


  • Actins
  • Receptors, Immunologic