Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 70, Issue 12, pp 2099–2121 | Cite as

Multiple roles for the actin cytoskeleton during regulated exocytosis

  • Natalie Porat-Shliom
  • Oleg Milberg
  • Andrius Masedunskas
  • Roberto WeigertEmail author


Regulated exocytosis is the main mechanism utilized by specialized secretory cells to deliver molecules to the cell surface by virtue of membranous containers (i.e., secretory vesicles). The process involves a series of highly coordinated and sequential steps, which include the biogenesis of the vesicles, their delivery to the cell periphery, their fusion with the plasma membrane, and the release of their content into the extracellular space. Each of these steps is regulated by the actin cytoskeleton. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge regarding the involvement of actin and its associated molecules during each of the exocytic steps in vertebrates, and suggest that the overall role of the actin cytoskeleton during regulated exocytosis is linked to the architecture and the physiology of the secretory cells under examination. Specifically, in neurons, neuroendocrine, endocrine, and hematopoietic cells, which contain small secretory vesicles that undergo rapid exocytosis (on the order of milliseconds), the actin cytoskeleton plays a role in pre-fusion events, where it acts primarily as a functional barrier and facilitates docking. In exocrine and other secretory cells, which contain large secretory vesicles that undergo slow exocytosis (seconds to minutes), the actin cytoskeleton plays a role in post-fusion events, where it regulates the dynamics of the fusion pore, facilitates the integration of the vesicles into the plasma membrane, provides structural support, and promotes the expulsion of large cargo molecules.


Regulated exocytosis Actin cytoskeleton Myosin Secretion 



This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. We sincerely apologize to those whose work could not be cited due to space limitations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalie Porat-Shliom
    • 1
  • Oleg Milberg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Andrius Masedunskas
    • 1
    • 4
  • Roberto Weigert
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Intracellular Membrane Trafficking Unit, Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer BranchNational Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Biochemical EngineeringRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical EngineeringRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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