Actin on DNA-An ancient and dynamic relationship

  • Skarp K
  • Vartiainen M
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In the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells the coordinated assembly of actin filaments drives essential cell biological processes, such as cell migration. The discovery of prokaryotic actin homologues, as well as the appreciation of the existence of nuclear actin, have expanded the scope by which the actin family is utilized in different cell types. In bacteria, actin has been implicated in DNA movement tasks, while the connection with the RNA polymerase machinery appears to exist in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Within the nucleus, actin has further been shown to play a role in chromatin remodeling and RNA processing, possibly acting to link these to transcription, thereby facilitating the gene expression process. The molecular mechanism by which actin exerts these newly discovered functions is still unclear, because while polymer formation seems to be required in bacteria, these species lack conventional actin-binding proteins to regulate the process. Furthermore, although the nucleus contains a plethora of actin-regulating factors, the polymerization status of actin within this compartment still remains unclear. General theme, however, seems to be actin's ability to interact with numerous binding partners. A common feature to the novel modes of actin utilization is the connection between actin and DNA, and here we aim to review the recent literature to explore how this connection is exploited in different contexts.

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  • Kari-Pekka Skarp

  • Maria K. Vartiainen

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