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Abstract

Thirty years after its initial characterization and more than 1000 publications listed in PubMed describing its properties, the small (ca15 kDa) protein profilin continues to surprise us with new, recently discovered functions. Originally described as an actin-binding protein, profilin has now been shown to interact with more than a dozen proteins in mammalian cells. Some of the more recently described and intriguing interactions are within neurons involving a neuronal profilin family member. Profilin is now regarded as a regulator of various cellular processes such as cytoskeletal dynamics, membrane trafficking and nuclear transport. Profilin is a necessary element in key steps of neuronal differentiation and synaptic plasticity, and embodies properties postulated for a synaptic tag. These findings identify profilin as an important factor linking cellular and behavioural plasticity in neural circuits. BioEssays 30:994–1002, 2008. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.