Listeria comet tails: the actin-based motility machinery at work

Trends Cell Biol. 2008 May;18(5):220-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2008.03.001. Epub 2008 Apr 7.


Listeria monocytogenes is a master of mimicry that uses the host cell actin system both to move within the cytoplasm of infected cells and for cell-to-cell spread. Recent studies of Listeria and similarly acting pathogens have generated leaps in our understanding of the actin-based force producing machinery. This machinery is essential for most motile properties of cells, not least for cell migration. In a minimal configuration, it consists of the Arp2/3-complex, Ena-VASP proteins, cofilin, capping protein and a nucleation-promoting factor. In this review, we discuss current models of pseudopodial protrusions and describe how the road to more complex models lies open and is already paved by recent studies using Listeria-based biomimetic motility assays.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors / metabolism
  • Actin-Related Protein 2-3 Complex / metabolism
  • Actins / chemistry*
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biomimetics
  • Burkholderia / metabolism
  • Cell Movement
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Rickettsia / metabolism


  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors
  • Actin-Related Protein 2-3 Complex
  • Actins
  • Bacterial Proteins