Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Biol. 2003 Sep 16;13(18):R734-44.

Biomimetic systems for studying actin-based motility.

Author information

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Physics, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Actin polymerization provides a major driving force for eukaryotic cell motility. Successive intercalation of monomeric actin subunits between the plasma membrane and the filamentous actin network results in protrusions of the membrane enabling the cell to move or to change shape. One of the challenges in understanding eukaryotic cell motility is to dissect the elementary biochemical and biophysical steps that link actin polymerization to mechanical force generation. Recently, significant progress was made using biomimetic, in vitro systems that are inspired by the actin-based motility of bacterial pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes. Polystyrene microspheres and synthetic phospholipid vesicles coated with proteins that initiate actin polymerization display motile behavior similar to Listeria, mimicking the leading edge of lamellipodia and filopodia. A major advantage of these biomimetic systems is that both biochemical and physical parameters can be controlled precisely. These systems provide a test bed for validating theoretical models on force generation and polarity establishment resulting from actin polymerization. In this review, we discuss recent experimental progress using biomimetic systems propelled by actin polymerization and discuss these results in the light of recent theoretical models on actin-based motility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center