New players in actin polymerization--WH2-domain-containing actin nucleators

Trends Cell Biol. 2009 Jun;19(6):276-85. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2009.03.004. Epub 2009 May 4.


Actin nucleators promote the polymerization of the different types of actin arrays formed in a variety of cellular processes, such as cell migration, cellular morphogenesis and membrane trafficking processes. Several novel nucleators have been discovered recently. They all contain Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP) homology 2 (WH2 or W) domains for actin nucleation but seem to employ different molecular mechanisms and serve distinct cellular functions. Here, we summarize what is currently known about the different molecular mechanisms that Spire, Cordon-Bleu and Leiomodin seem to use and, also, the bacterial counterparts that mimic them (VopF, VopL and TARP). Recent studies on these WH2 proteins offer unique insight into the biological problem of actin-filament formation and how cells use specialized molecular machines to bring about so many different cytoskeletal structures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein / physiology*


  • Actins
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein