Actin cytoskeletal network in aging and cancer.
The cytoskeleton is being recognized as an important modulator of metabolic functions of the cell. The actin cytoskeletal network, in particular, is involved in events regulating cell proliferation and differentiation. The state of actin in a variety of cell types is regulated by signals arising from the cell surface through a wide spectrum of interactions. In this review, we explore the role of actin cytoskeletal network in a series of events which are known to influence cell proliferation and differentiation. These include interaction of actin network with extracellular matrix proteins, cell surface membranes, second messengers, cytoplasmic enzymes and the nucleus. Because of the involvement of the actin network in such diverse interactions, we propose that alterations in the actin cytoskeletal function may be an important aspect of generalized decrease in cellular functions associated with aging. Preliminary data indicate that alterations in the cytoskeletal network do occur in cells obtained from older individuals. Alterations in actin state are also reported during malignant transformation of cells in culture, and in naturally occurring tumors. Taken together, the existing data seem to suggest that changes in the actin cytoskeletal network may be a part of the aging process as well as malignant transformation. Therefore, the study of the actin cytoskeletal network and its regulation has the potential to yield important information regarding cellular senescence and neoplastic transformation.
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