The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 63: 417 - 427 (2019)

Vol 63, Issue 8-9-10

Special Issue: The Dictyostelium model system

Actin assembly states in Dictyostelium discoideum at different stages of development and during cellular stress

Published: 11 December 2019

Hellen C. Ishikawa-Ankerhold1 and Annette Müller-Taubenberger*,2

1Department of Internal Medicine I, and Walter Brendel Centre of Experimental Medicine, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany and 2Department of Cell Biology (Anatomy III), Biomedical Center, LMU Munich, Planegg-Martinsried, Germany


The actin cytoskeleton of non-muscle cells is essential for cellular structure and subcellular organization, and the dynamic regulation of actin assembly and disassembly is a prerequisite for motility. Pioneering work using Dictyostelium discoideum focused on the biochemical analysis of non-muscle actin, the identification of actin-regulating proteins and their specific functions during processes like cell migration, cytokinesis, phagocytosis, and morphogenesis. Although subsequent work in higher eukaryotes revealed that the processes regulating actin dynamics are often much more complex, results obtained by using Dictyostelium have been of fundamental importance because they have contributed significantly to our understanding of the actin cytoskeleton in higher eukaryotes. Dictyostelium is an accepted model system for studying fast moving cells, because the single cells of the organism share many similarities with cells of the immune system such as human neutrophils. Here we provide a brief overview on the milestones of research of the actin cytoskeleton taking advantage of Dictyostelium. Furthermore, we summarize how actin structures and cytoskeletal dynamics at different stages of development have been visualized, and give an overview on the current focus of research. In addition, we discuss results showing actin assembly states during phases of cellular stress and how stress-induced actin assembly states may contribute to our understanding of certain diseases.


actin-binding protein, actin dynamics, actin rod, cellular stress, cytoskeleton

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