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J Cell Sci. 2009 Oct 1;122(Pt 19):3441-54. doi: 10.1242/jcs.039859.

Regulation of cell migration and morphogenesis by Abl-family kinases: emerging mechanisms and physiological contexts.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The Abl-family non-receptor tyrosine kinases are essential regulators of the cytoskeleton. They transduce diverse extracellular cues into cytoskeletal rearrangements that have dramatic effects on cell motility and morphogenesis. Recent biochemical and genetic studies have revealed several mechanisms that Abl-family kinases use to mediate these effects. Abl-family kinases stimulate actin polymerization through the activation of cortactin, hematopoietic lineage cell-specific protein (HS1), WASp- and WAVE-family proteins, and Rac1. They also attenuate cell contractility by inhibiting RhoA and altering adhesion dynamics. These pathways impinge on several physiological processes, including development and maintenance of the nervous and immune systems, and epithelial morphogenesis. Elucidating how Abl-family kinases are regulated, and where and when they coordinate cytoskeletal changes, is essential for garnering a better understanding of these complex processes.

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