The actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin family comprises small actin-binding proteins with crucial roles in development, tissue homeostasis and disease. They are best known for their roles in regulating actin dynamics by promoting actin treadmilling and thereby driving membrane protrusion and cell motility. However, recent discoveries have increased our understanding of the functions of these proteins beyond their well-characterized roles. This Cell Science at a Glance article and the accompanying poster serve as an introduction to the diverse roles of the ADF/cofilin family in cells. The first part of the article summarizes their actions in actin treadmilling and the main mechanisms for their intracellular regulation; the second part aims to provide an outline of the emerging cellular roles attributed to the ADF/cofilin family, besides their actions in actin turnover. The latter part discusses an array of diverse processes, which include regulation of intracellular contractility, maintenance of nuclear integrity, transcriptional regulation, nuclear actin monomer transfer, apoptosis and lipid metabolism. Some of these could, of course, be indirect consequences of actin treadmilling functions, and this is discussed.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd