Recent advances in structural, biochemical, biophysical, and live cell imaging approaches have furthered our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which regulated assembly dynamics of actin filaments drive motile processes. Attention is focused on lamellipodium protrusion, powered by the turnover of a branched filament array. ATP hydrolysis on actin is the key reaction that allows filament treadmilling. It regulates barbed-end dynamics and length fluctuations at steady state and specifies the functional interaction of actin with essential regulatory proteins such as profilin and ADF/cofilin. ATP hydrolysis on actin and Arp2/3 acts as a timer, regulating the assembly and disassembly of the branched array to generate tropomyosin-mediated heterogeneity in the structure and dynamics of the lamellipodial network. The detailed molecular mechanisms of ATP hydrolysis/Pi release on F-actin remain elusive, as well as the mechanism of filament branching with Arp2/3 complex or that of the formin-driven processive actin assembly. Novel biophysical methods involving single-molecule measurements should foster progress in these crucial issues.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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