Actin nucleators in the nucleus: an emerging theme.
Weston L., Coutts AS., La Thangue NB.
Actin is an integral component of the cytoskeleton, forming a plethora of macromolecular structures that mediate various cellular functions. The formation of such structures relies on the ability of actin monomers to associate into polymers, and this process is regulated by actin nucleation factors. These factors use monomeric actin pools at specific cellular locations, thereby permitting rapid actin filament formation when required. It has now been established that actin is also present in the nucleus, where it is implicated in chromatin remodelling and the regulation of eukaryotic gene transcription. Notably, the presence of typical actin filaments in the nucleus has not been demonstrated directly. However, studies in recent years have provided evidence for the nuclear localisation of actin nucleation factors that promote cytoplasmic actin polymerisation. Their localisation to the nucleus suggests that these proteins mediate collaboration between the cytoskeleton and the nucleus, which might be dependent on their ability to promote actin polymerisation. The nature of this cooperation remains enigmatic and it will be important to elucidate the physiological relevance of the link between cytoskeletal actin networks and nuclear events. This Commentary explores the current evidence for the nuclear roles of actin nucleation factors. Furthermore, the implication of actin-associated proteins in relaying exogenous signals to the nucleus, particularly in response to cellular stress, will be considered.