PerspectiveCell Biology

Formin Tip Tracking

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Science  07 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6013, pp. 39-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200773

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Eukaryotic cells, including those of humans, depend on filaments of actin protein for their physical integrity and movements. Formins are a class of proteins that regulate actin assembly, producing filaments that participate in cell division, cell migration, and intracellular transport, among other cellular processes (1). Although many proteins have been identified that regulate actin, we need to better understand their modes of action at the molecular level. Technical advances, such as single-molecule imaging in real time with purified proteins and in live cells, are extending this knowledge. On page 80 of this issue, Mizuno et al. (2) present a method for visualizing the rotational movement of actin filaments as they grow from immobilized formin proteins. The study confirms that actin elongation is coupled to rotation motion of the filament, and provides clues about how formins might transmit actin-generated force to other cellular structures.