A new link between the retrograde actin flow and focal adhesions

J Biochem. 2014 Nov;156(5):239-48. doi: 10.1093/jb/mvu053. Epub 2014 Sep 3.


The retrograde actin flow, continuous centripetal movement of the cell peripheral actin networks, is widely observed in adherent cells. The retrograde flow is believed to facilitate cell migration when linked to cell adhesion molecules. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge regarding the functional relationship between the retrograde actin flow and focal adhesions (FAs). We also introduce our recent study in which single-molecule speckle (SiMS) microscopy dissected the complex interactions between FAs and the local actin flow. FAs do not simply impede the actin flow, but actively attract and remodel the local actin network. Our findings provide a new insight into the mechanisms for protrusion and traction force generation at the cell leading edge. Furthermore, we discuss possible roles of the actin flow-FA interaction based on the accumulated knowledge and our SiMS study.

Keywords: actin; cell migration; focal adhesion; retrograde flow; single-molecule speckle microscopy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Actins