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Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2015;31:593-621. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100814-125234.

Structure, regulation, and functional diversity of microvilli on the apical domain of epithelial cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and Weill Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853; email:


Microvilli are actin-based structures found on the apical aspect of many epithelial cells. In this review, we discuss different types of microvilli, as well as comparisons with actin-based sensory stereocilia and filopodia. Much is known about the actin-bundling proteins of these structures; we summarize recent studies that focus on the components of the microvillar membrane. We pay special attention to mechanisms of membrane microfilament attachment by the ezrin/radixin/moesin family and regulation of this protein family. We also discuss the NHERF family of scaffolding proteins that are found in microvilli and their role in microvilli regulation. Microvilli on cultured cells are not static structures, and their dynamics and those of their components are discussed. Finally, we mention diseases related to microvilli and outline questions that our current knowledge will allow the field to address in the near future.


ERM proteins; ezrin; polarity; scaffolding proteins

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