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Eur J Cell Biol. 2011 Nov;90(11):922-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2010.10.011. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Actin dynamics at intracellular membranes: the Spir/formin nucleator complex.

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Bavarian Genome Research Network (BayGene), Molecular Cell Biology Laboratory, Department of Neurology, University Hospital Regensburg, Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11, D-93053 Regensburg, Germany.


The assembly of actin monomers into filaments is a highly regulated basic cellular function. The structural organization of a cell, morphological changes or cell motility is dependent on actin filament dynamics. While within the last decade substantial knowledge has been acquired about actin dynamics at the cell membrane, today only little is known about the actin cytoskeleton and its functions at intracellular endosomal and organelle membranes. The Spir actin nucleators are specifically targeted towards endosomal membranes by a FYVE zinc finger membrane localization domain, and provide an important link to study the role of actin dynamics in the regulation of intracellular membrane transport. Spir proteins are the founding members of a novel class of actin nucleation factors, which initiate actin polymerization by binding of actin monomers to one or multiple Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASp) homology 2 (WH2) domains. Although Spir proteins can nucleate actin polymerization in vitro by themselves, they form a regulatory complex with the distinct actin nucleators of the formin subgroup (Fmn) of formins. A cooperative mechanism in actin nucleation has been proposed. Ongoing studies on the function and regulation of the Spir proteins in vesicle transport processes will reveal important insights into actin dynamics at intracellular membranes and how this regulates the highly directed and controlled routes of intracellular membrane trafficking.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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