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Annu Rev Biochem. 2002;71:755-81. Epub 2001 Nov 9.

Nuclear actin and actin-related proteins in chromatin remodeling.

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Department of Developmental Biology and Department of Pathology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


The existence and function of actin in the nucleus has been hotly debated for forty years. Recently, beta-actin was found to be a component of mammalian SWI/SNF-like BAF chromatin remodeling complexes and still more recently other SWI/SNF-related chromatin remodeling complexes in yeast, flies, and man. Although the function of actin in these chromatin remodeling complexes is only starting to be explored, the fact that actin is one of the most regulated proteins in the cell suggests that control of nuclear actin may be a critical regulatory point in the control of chromatin remodeling. Actin rapidly shuttles between the nucleus and the cytoplasm offering additional sites and modes of regulation. In addition, actin-related proteins (Arps) are also components of these chromatin remodeling complexes and have been implicated in transcriptional control in yeast. The observation that the BAF chromatin remodeling complex in which actin was originally identified, is also a human tumor suppressor complex necessary for the actions of the retinoblastoma protein indicates that the study of nuclear actin is likely to contribute to understanding cell growth control.

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