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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2003 Feb;15(1):40-7.

Microtubules meet substrate adhesions to arrange cell polarity.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Biology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Billrothstrasse 11, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.


Cell movement is driven by the regulated and polarised turnover of the actin cytoskeleton and of the adhesion complexes that link it to the extracellular matrix. For most cells, polarisation requires the engagement of microtubules, which exert their effect by mediating changes in the activity of the Rho GTPases. Evidence suggests that these changes are effected in a very localised fashion at sites of substrate adhesion, via specific microtubule-targeting interactions. Targeting serves to bring molecular complexes bound at the tips and along microtubules in close proximity with adhesion complexes, to promote adhesion disassembly and remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton.

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