Recent findings have significantly expanded our understanding of the regulation of actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin proteins and the profound multifaceted impact that these well-established regulators of actin dynamics have on cell biology. In this review we discuss new aspects of previously documented regulation, such as phosphorylation, but also cover novel recently established modes of regulation and functions of ADF (also known as destrin)/cofilin. We now understand that their activity responds to a vast array of inputs far greater than previously appreciated and that these proteins not only feed back to the crucially important dynamics of actin, but also to apoptosis cascades, phospholipid metabolism, and gene expression. We argue that this ability to respond to physiological changes by modulating those same changes makes the ADF/cofilin protein family a homeostatic regulator or 'functional node' in cell biology.
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