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Front Biosci. 1997 Jun 1;2:d260-70.

Molecular mechanism of actin-dependent retrograde flow in lamellipodia of motile cells.

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The Randall Institute, Kings College London, 26-29 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5RL, UK.


In motile, eukaryotic cells, a variety of cell-associated material (collectively termed here as 'particles') continuously flows, relative to the substratum, from the front to the back of the extreme margin of the cell (termed the 'lamellipodium'). This retrograde particle flow, occurs both over the surface of, and inside the lamellipodium. Force to drive retrograde particle flow in lamellipodia is dependent on actin filaments, but the precise mechanism of force generation, and function of the flow is generally not well understood. Actin filaments themselves, in lamellipodia of most motile cell types studied also flow retrograde relative to the substratum. This actin flow, in Aplysia bag cell neuronal growth cones, is known to be driven by activity of a myosin. In these growth cones, retrograde flow of cell surface-attached particles is coupled to retrograde actin flow. In Aplysia, force from retrograde actin flow may limit certain types of growth cone motility. In other motile cell types, such as keratocytes and fibroblasts, the mechanism of retrograde particle flow and function of retrograde actin flow in lamellipodia is poorly understood. For these cell types, recent data provide a basis for proposing alternative actin-based mechanisms to drive retrograde particle flow in lamellipodia. One mechanism is based on activity of a putative pointed end- directed actin motor, and the other on tension-driven surface lipid flow. Here I will review recent advances that have been made in determining the molecular mechanism of force generation to drive retrograde particle flow relative to the substratum in lamellipodia of motile cells. I will address the function of retrograde actin flow in lamellipodia, and apparent differences between Aplysia and other motile cell types.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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