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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2003 Aug 18;1641(2-3):175-81.

Actin remodeling to facilitate membrane fusion.

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Department of Cell Biology, MSB 5-14, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2H7.


Actin and its associated proteins participate in several intracellular trafficking mechanisms. This review assesses recent work that shows how actin participates in the terminal trafficking event of membrane bilayer fusion. A recent flurry of reports defines a role for Rho proteins in membrane fusion and also demonstrates that this role is distinct from any vesicle transport mechanism. Rho proteins are well known to govern actin remodeling, which implicates this process as a condition of membrane fusion. A small but significant body of work examines actin-regulated events of intracellular membrane fusion, exocytosis and endocytosis. In general, actin has been shown to act as a negative regulator of exocytosis. Cortical actin filaments act as a barrier that requires transient removal to allow vesicles to undergo docking at the plasma membrane. However, once docked, F-actin synthesis may act as a positive regulator to give the final stimulus to drive membrane fusion. F-actin synthesis is clearly needed for endocytosis and intracellular membrane fusion events. What may seem like dissimilar results are perhaps snapshots of a single mechanism of membranous actin remodeling (i.e. dynamic disassembly and reassembly) that is universally needed for all membrane fusion events.

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