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Actin stress fibers – assembly, dynamics and biological roles
Sari Tojkander, Gergana Gateva, Pekka Lappalainen


Actin filaments assemble into diverse protrusive and contractile structures to provide force for a number of vital cellular processes. Stress fibers are contractile actomyosin bundles found in many cultured non-muscle cells, where they have a central role in cell adhesion and morphogenesis. Focal-adhesion-anchored stress fibers also have an important role in mechanotransduction. In animal tissues, stress fibers are especially abundant in endothelial cells, myofibroblasts and epithelial cells. Importantly, recent live-cell imaging studies have provided new information regarding the mechanisms of stress fiber assembly and how their contractility is regulated in cells. In addition, these studies might elucidate the general mechanisms by which contractile actomyosin arrays, including muscle cell myofibrils and cytokinetic contractile ring, can be generated in cells. In this Commentary, we discuss recent findings concerning the physiological roles of stress fibers and the mechanism by which these structures are generated in cells.


  • Funding

    The work of our laboratory is supported by grants from Academy of Finland (to P.L. and S.T.), Sigrid Juselius Foundation (to P.L.) and Viikki Doctoral Programme in Molecular Biosciences (to G.G.).

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