Recycling of the actin monomer pool limits the lifetime of network turnover

Alexandra Colin, Tommi Kotila, Christophe Guérin, Magali Orhant-Prioux, Benoit Vianay, Alex Mogilner, Pekka Lappalainen, Manuel Théry, Laurent Blanchoin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intracellular organization is largely mediated by actin turnover. Cellular actin networks continuously assemble and disassemble, while maintaining their overall appearance. This behavior, called “dynamic steady state,” allows cells to sense and adapt to their environment. However, how structural stability can be maintained during the constant turnover of a limited actin monomer pool is poorly understood. To answer this question, we developed an experimental system where polystyrene beads are propelled by an actin comet in a microwell containing a limited amount of components. We used the speed and the size of the actin comet tails to evaluate the system's monomer consumption and its lifetime. We established the relative contribution of actin assembly, disassembly, and recycling for a bead movement over tens of hours. Recycling mediated by cyclase-associated protein (CAP) is the key step in allowing the reuse of monomers for multiple assembly cycles. ATP supply and protein aging are also factors that limit the lifetime of actin turnover. This work reveals the balancing mechanism for long-term network assembly with a limited amount of building blocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere112717
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2 2023


  • actin turnover
  • aging
  • lifetime
  • microwells
  • reconstituted system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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