Beta Actin is a Key Player in Embryonic Development and Cell Motility

Wed, 10/24/2012 - 16:40

Actins are an essential component of the cytoskeleton, with critical roles in a wide range of cellular processes, including cell migration, division, and regulation of gene expression. These functions are attributed to the ability of actin to form filaments that can rapidly assemble and disassemble according to the needs of the cell. There exist six different but highly conserved actin isoforms in vertebrates (1). Despite longstanding ambiguity regarding the significance of the cytoplasmic actin isoforms, it has long been believed that beta actin confers unique biological functions. Recent genetic models provided considerable support to this idea, as beta actin deficient mice have distinct phenotype uncharacterized defects (2).

WB analysis of beta Actin

One of the best-studied roles for actin is in cell motility, a fundamental process essential for embryonic development, wound healing, and immune responses. Cell migration is largely driven by the polymerization of actin at the leading edge, which provides the protrusive forces that push the membrane forward (3). Utilizing beta actin knockout mice and determining the levels of beta actin by Western blots and immunoflorescence using anti-beta actin antibodies it has been shown that beta actin plays an important role in the embryonic development. Targeted deletion of beta actin in two different primary cell types and subsequent detection by antibodies against beta actin led to dramatic migration defects, indicating a distinct requirement of beta actin in cell motility (4). Analysis of beta actin conditional knockouts to further our understanding of the in vivo role of beta actin during specific developmental processes is an open area of research (5).

  1. PMID: 2203335
  2. PMID: 16950128
  3. PMID: 12600310
  4. PMID: 19523798
  5. PMID: 21900491

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