Under lock and key: spatiotemporal regulation of WASP family proteins coordinates separate dynamic cellular processes

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2013 Apr;24(4):258-66. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.12.005. Epub 2013 Jan 3.


WASP family proteins are nucleation promoting factors that bind to and activate the Arp2/3 complex in order to stimulate nucleation of branched actin filaments. The WASP family consists of WASP, N-WASP, WAVE1-3, WASH, and the novel family members WHAMM and JMY. Each of the family members contains a C-terminus responsible for their nucleation promoting activity and unique N-termini that allow for them to be regulated in a spatiotemporal manner. Upon activation they reorganize the cytoskeleton for different cellular functions depending on their subcellular localization and regulatory protein interactions. Emerging evidence indicates that WASH, WHAMM, and JMY have functions that require the coordination of both actin polymerization and microtubule dynamics. Here, we review the mechanisms of regulation for each family member and their associated in vivo functions including cell migration, vesicle trafficking, and neuronal development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actin-Related Protein 2-3 Complex / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Protein Transport
  • Signal Transduction
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein Family / metabolism*
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein, Neuronal / metabolism*


  • Actin-Related Protein 2-3 Complex
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein Family
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein, Neuronal