Cytoskeletal cross-linking and bundling in motor-independent contraction

Sean X. Sun, Sam Walcott, Charles W. Wolgemuth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells use cytoskeletal proteins to regulate and modify cell shape. During cytokinesis or eukaryotic cell crawling, contractile forces are generated inside the cell to constrict the division site or to haul the rear of the cell forward, respectively. In many cases, these forces have been attributed to the activity of molecular motors, such as myosin II, which, by pulling on actin filaments, can produce contraction of the actin cytoskeleton. However, prokaryotic division is driven by the tubulin-like protein FtsZ and does not seem to require additional molecular motors to constrict the division site. Likewise, Dictyostelium discoideum and Saccharomyces cerevisiae can perform cytokinesis under motor-free conditions. In addition, many crawling cells can translocate when myosin is inhibited or absent. In this review, we point out another force-generation mechanism that can play a significant role in driving these processes in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. This mechanism is mediated by cross-linking and bundling proteins that form effective interactions between cytoskeletal filaments. Some recent studies in this area are reviewed and the physical underpinnings of this force-generation mechanism are explained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R649-R654
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 10 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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