Actin on disease – Studying the pathobiology of cell motility using Dictyostelium discoideum

Carnell, M.J. and Insall, R.H. (2011) Actin on disease – Studying the pathobiology of cell motility using Dictyostelium discoideum. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, 22(1), pp. 82-88. (doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2010.12.003)

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The actin cytoskeleton in eukaryotic cells provides cell structure and organisation, and allows cells to generate forces against membranes. As such it is a central component of a variety of cellular structures involved in cell motility, cytokinesis and vesicle trafficking. In multicellular organisms these processes contribute towards embryonic development and effective functioning of cells of all types, most obviously rapidly moving cells like lymphocytes. Actin also defines and maintains the architecture of complex structures such as neuronal synapses and stereocillia, and is required for basic housekeeping tasks within the cell. It is therefore not surprising that misregulation of the actin cytoskeleton can cause a variety of disease pathologies, including compromised immunity, neurodegeneration, and cancer spread. Dictyostelium discoideum has long been used as a tool for dissecting the mechanisms by which eukaryotic cells migrate and chemotax, and recently it has gained precedence as a model organism for studying the roles of conserved pathways in disease processes. Dictyostelium's unusual lifestyle, positioned between unicellular and multicellular organisms, combined with ease of handling and strong conservation of actin regulatory machinery with higher animals, make it ideally suited for studying actin-related diseases. Here we address how research in Dictyostelium has contributed to our understanding of immune deficiencies and neurological defects in humans, and briefly discuss its future prospects for furthering our understanding of neurodegenerative disorders.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Insall, Professor Robert
Authors: Carnell, M.J., and Insall, R.H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Cancer Sciences
Journal Name:Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology

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