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Bioarchitecture. 2012 Jan 1;2(1):11-14.

Releasing the brakes while hanging on: Cortactin effects on actin-driven motility.

Abstract

Actin polymerization plays a major role in many cellular processes, including cell motility, vesicle trafficking, and pathogen propulsion. The transformation of the (protrusive) polymerization forces into directed motion requires that the growing filaments are positioned next to the surface. This is achieved by localization of surface actin nucleators (WASP), which then activate Arp2/3 complex to form new actin branches. Yet, the same surface-bound WASP molecule which initiates the nucleation of new actin branches, also inherently prevents the translation of the polymerization forces into motion, essentially because the WASP molecule has to be in contact with the network during the formation of the new branch. In our recent paper we show that cortactin relaxes this internal inhibition by enhancing the release of WASP-VCA molecule from the new branching site after nucleation is initiated. We show that this enhanced release has two major effects; it increases the turnover rate of branching per WASP molecule, and it decreases the friction-like force caused by the binding of the moving surface with respect to the growing actin network.

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