Formin 2 regulates the stabilization of filopodial tip adhesions in growth cones and affects neuronal outgrowth and pathfinding in vivo

Development. 2016 Feb 1;143(3):449-60. doi: 10.1242/dev.130104. Epub 2015 Dec 30.


Growth cone filopodia are actin-based mechanosensory structures that are essential for chemoreception and the generation of contractile forces necessary for directional motility. However, little is known about the influence of filopodial actin structures on substrate adhesion and filopodial contractility. Formin 2 (Fmn2) localizes along filopodial actin bundles and its depletion does not affect filopodia initiation or elongation. However, Fmn2 activity is required for filopodial tip adhesion maturation and the ability of filopodia to generate traction forces. Dysregulation of filopodia in Fmn2-depleted neurons leads to compromised growth cone motility. Additionally, in mouse fibroblasts, Fmn2 regulates ventral stress fiber assembly and affects the stability of focal adhesions. In the developing chick spinal cord, Fmn2 activity is required cell-autonomously for the outgrowth and pathfinding of spinal commissural neurons. Our results reveal an unanticipated function for Fmn2 in neural development. Fmn2 regulates structurally diverse bundled actin structures, parallel filopodial bundles in growth cones and anti-parallel stress fibers in fibroblasts, in turn modulating the stability of substrate adhesions. We propose Fmn2 as a mediator of actin bundle integrity, enabling efficient force transmission to the adhesion sites.

Keywords: Axon guidance; Chick; Filopodia; Formin 2; Growth cone; Mouse fibroblast; Spinal commissural interneurons; Substrate adhesion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Chickens
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Growth Cones / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism*
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Stress Fibers / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Actins
  • Microfilament Proteins