The mammalian cytoskeleton is an internal framework of actin,
tubulin, and intermediate filament proteins. Proteins of these
three classes assemble non-covalently into filamentous polymers
that support the structural integrity of the relatively fragile
lipid plasma membrane. In addition, cytoskeletal polymers provide
the mechanical strength that hold a cell together and anchor it to
its growth substrate. The cytoskeleton must also have the capacity
for rapid and substantial remodeling and provide the motive and
tractor force necessary to drive motility. As such, the
cytoskeleton has a functional duality: sufficiently rigid to
prevent plasma membrane deformation but pliable enough to allow for
cytokinesis; sufficiently adhesive to allow for traction but
dynamic enough to allow movement from one place to another. A major
research challenge in cytoskeleton biology is to understand how
cytoskeletal proteins assemble and dissemble in support of
physiological processes. This chapter will focus on the role of the
actin cytoskeleton in cell migration. More specifically, we will
focus on the actin cytoskeleton of vertebrate cells. Table of
Contents: Introduction / The Fundamentals of Actin Polymerization /
Accessory Proteins Regulate Actin Polymerization and Assembly /
Cellular Actin Structure / Cell Migration / Summary of Cell
Migration / References / Author Biography
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