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Cell Adh Migr. 2011 Sep-Oct;5(5):402-8. doi: 10.4161/cam.5.5.16971.

Filopodia initiation: focus on the Arp2/3 complex and formins.

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Department of Biology; University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Filopodia are long, slender, actin-rich cellular protrusions, which recently have become a focus of cell biology research because of their proposed roles as sensory and exploratory organelles that allow for "intelligent" cell behavior. Actin nucleation, elongation and bundling are believed to be essential for filopodia formation and functions. However, the identity of actin filament nucleators responsible for the initiation of filopodia remains controversial. Two alternative models, the convergent elongation and tip nucleation, emphasize two different actin filament nucleators, the Arp2/3 complex or formins, respectively, as key players during filopodia initiation. Although these two models in principle are not mutually exclusive, it is important to understand which of them is actually employed by cells. In this review, we discuss the existing evidence regarding the relative roles of the Arp2/3 complex and formins in filopodia initiation.

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