Myosin Motor Function: The Ins and Outs of Actin-Based Membrane Protrusions

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2010 Apr;67(8):1239-54. doi: 10.1007/s00018-009-0254-5. Epub 2010 Jan 27.


Cells build plasma membrane protrusions supported by parallel bundles of F-actin to enable a wide variety of biological functions, ranging from motility to host defense. Filopodia, microvilli and stereocilia are three such protrusions that have been the focus of intense biological and biophysical investigation in recent years. While it is evident that actin dynamics play a significant role in the formation of these organelles, members of the myosin superfamily have also been implicated as key players in the maintenance of protrusion architecture and function. Based on a simple analysis of the physical forces that control protrusion formation and morphology, as well as our review of available data, we propose that myosins play two general roles within these structures: (1) as cargo transporters to move critical regulatory components toward distal tips and (2) as mediators of membrane-cytoskeleton adhesion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cell Surface Extensions / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Myosins / physiology*


  • Actins
  • Myosins