Regulation of actin assembly associated with protrusion and adhesion in cell migration

Physiol Rev. 2008 Apr;88(2):489-513. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00021.2007.


To migrate, a cell first extends protrusions such as lamellipodia and filopodia, forms adhesions, and finally retracts its tail. The actin cytoskeleton plays a major role in this process. The first part of this review (sect. II) describes the formation of the lamellipodial and filopodial actin networks. In lamellipodia, the WASP-Arp2/3 pathways generate a branched filament array. This polarized dendritic actin array is maintained in rapid treadmilling by the concerted action of ADF, profilin, and capping proteins. In filopodia, formins catalyze the processive assembly of nonbranched actin filaments. Cell matrix adhesions mechanically couple actin filaments to the substrate to convert the treadmilling into protrusion and the actomyosin contraction into traction of the cell body and retraction of the tail. The second part of this review (sect. III) focuses on the function and the regulation of major proteins (vinculin, talin, tensin, and alpha-actinin) that control the nucleation, the binding, and the barbed-end growth of actin filaments in adhesions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cell-Matrix Junctions / metabolism*
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism*


  • Actins