Mechanics of the F-actin cytoskeleton. Academic Article uri icon


  • Dynamic regulation of the filamentous actin (F-actin) cytoskeleton is critical to numerous physical cellular processes, including cell adhesion, migration and division. Each of these processes require precise regulation of cell shape and mechanical force generation which, to a large degree, is regulated by the dynamic mechanical behaviors of a diverse assortment of F-actin networks and bundles. In this review, we review the current understanding of the mechanics of F-actin networks and identify areas of further research needed to establish physical models. We first review our understanding of the mechanical behaviors of F-actin networks reconstituted in vitro, with a focus on the nonlinear mechanical response and behavior of "active" F-actin networks. We then explore the types of mechanical response measured of cytoskeletal F-actin networks and bundles formed in living cells and identify how these measurements correspond to those performed on reconstituted F-actin networks formed in vitro. Together, these approaches identify the challenges and opportunities in the study of living cytoskeletal matter.

publication date

  • January 5, 2010