Yeast studies reveal moonlighting functions of the ancient actin cytoskeleton

Authors

  • Evelyn Sattlegger,

    1. Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
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  • Tatiana A. Chernova,

    1. Department of Biochemistry, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA
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  • Neeku M. Gogoi,

    1. Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
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  • Indu V. Pillai,

    1. Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
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  • Yury O. Chernoff,

    1. School of Biology and Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    2. Laboratory of Amyloid Biology, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
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  • Alan L. Munn

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Medical Science and Griffith Health Institute Molecular Basis of Disease Program, Griffith University (Gold Coast), Southport, Queensland, Australia
    • Address correspondence to: Dr Alan L. Munn, School of Medical Science and Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University (Gold Coast), Parklands Dr., Southport, QLD 4222, Australia. Tel: +61-7-55529307. Fax: +61-7-55528908. E-mail: a.munn@griffith.edu.au

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  • Conflict of Interest: The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Abstract

Classic functions of the actin cytoskeleton include control of cell size and shape and the internal organization of cells. These functions are manifest in cellular processes of fundamental importance throughout biology such as the generation of cell polarity, cell migration, cell adhesion, and cell division. However, studies in the unicellular model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Baker's yeast) are giving insights into other functions in which the actin cytoskeleton plays a critical role. These include endocytosis, control of protein translation, and determination of protein 3-dimensional shape (especially conversion of normal cellular proteins into prions). Here, we present a concise overview of these new “moonlighting” roles for the actin cytoskeleton and how some of these roles might lie at the heart of important molecular switches. This is an exciting time for researchers interested in the actin cytoskeleton. We show here how studies of actin are leading us into many new and exciting realms at the interface of genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology. While many of the pioneering studies have been conducted using yeast, the conservation of the actin cytoskeleton and its component proteins throughout eukaryotes suggests that these new roles for the actin cytoskeleton may not be restricted to yeast cells but rather may reflect new roles for the actin cytoskeleton of all eukaryotes. © 2014 IUBMB Life, 66(8):538–545, 2014

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