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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2004 Oct;36(10):1890-909.

The actin cytoskeleton in normal and pathological cell motility.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), Ghent University, A. Baertsoenkaai 3, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.


Cell motility is crucial for tissue formation and for development of organisms. Later on cell migration remains essential throughout the lifetime of the organism for wound healing and immune responses. The actin cytoskeleton is the cellular engine that drives cell motility downstream of a complex signal transduction cascade. The basic molecular machinery underlying the assembly and disassembly of actin filaments consists of a variety of actin binding proteins that regulate the dynamic behavior of the cytoskeleton in response to different signals. The multitude of proteins and regulatory mechanisms partaking in this system makes it vulnerable to mutations and alterations in expression levels that ultimately may cause diseases. The most familiar one is cancer that in later stages is characterized by active aberrant cell migration. Indeed tumor invasion and metastasis are increasingly being associated with deregulation of the actin system.

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