Actin, a highly conserved cytoskeletal protein, is required for several essential eukaryotic processes including cell migration, muscle contraction, and cytokinesis. Actin exists either as a free monomer termed G-actin (globular) or a linear polymer termed F-actin (filamentous). Given the asymmetry of G-actin, F-actin has inherent polarity with distinct “pointed” and “barbed” ends. Another critical feature of F-actin is its ability to treadmill, wherein G-actin is exchanged from both ends of the filament. This property emerges from the ATPase activity of G-actin and confers force-generating capabilities to F-actin. Mutations within actin and actin-associated proteins correlate with a variety of human diseases, including deafness and skeletal and cardiac myopathies.
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