Discovery of functional interactions among actin regulators by analysis of image fluctuations in an unperturbed motile cell system

Tadamoto Isogai, Gaudenz Danuser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Cell migration is driven by propulsive forces derived from polymerizing actin that pushes and extends the plasma membrane. The underlying actin network is constantly undergoing adaptation to new mechano-chemical environments and intracellular conditions. As such, mechanisms that regulate actin dynamics inherently contain multiple feedback loops and redundant pathways. Given the highly adaptable nature of such a system, studies that use only perturbation experiments (e.g. knockdowns, overexpression, pharmacological activation/inhibition, etc.) are challenged by the nonlinearity and redundancy of the pathway. In these pathway configurations, perturbation experiments at best describe the function(s) of a molecular component in an adapting (e.g. acutely drug-treated) or fully adapted (e.g. permanent gene silenced) cell system, where the targeted component now resides in a non-native equilibrium. Here, we propose how quantitative live-cell imaging and analysis of constitutive fluctuations of molecular activities can overcome these limitations. We highlight emerging actin filament barbed-end biology as a prime example of a complex, nonlinear molecular process that requires a fluctuation analytic approach, especially in an unperturbed cellular system, to decipher functional interactions of barbed-end regulators, actin polymerization and membrane protrusion. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Self-organization in cell biology’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20170110
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1747
StatePublished - May 26 2018


  • Actin
  • Fluctuations
  • Imaging
  • Real-time
  • Signalling
  • System redundancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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