Actin is a highly abundant intracellular protein present in all eukaryotic cells and has a pivotal role in muscle contraction as well as in cell movements. Actin also has an essential function in maintaining and controlling cell shape and architecture. Actin participates in many important cellular processes, including muscle contraction, cell motility, cell division and cytokinesis, vesicle and organelle movement, cell signaling, and the establishment and maintenance of cell junctions and cell shape.
Many of these processes are mediated by extensive and intimate interactions of actin with cellular membranes.
In other words, actin is involved with how cells move and divide.
A cell’s ability to dynamically form microfilaments provides the scaffolding that allows it to rapidly remodel itself in response to its environment or to the organism’s internal signals, for example, to increase cell membrane absorption or increase cell adhesion in order to form cell tissue.
Actin, therefore, contributes to processes such as the intracellular transport of vesicles and organelles as well as muscular contraction and cellular migration. It, therefore, plays an important role in embryogenesis, the healing of wounds, and the invasivity of cancer cells.
Lastly, actin plays an important role in the control of gene expression. A large number of illnesses and diseases are caused by mutations in alleles of the genes that regulate the production of actin or of its associated proteins.
The production of actin is also key to the process of infection by some pathogenic microorganisms. Mutations in the different genes that regulate actin production in humans can cause muscular diseases, variations in the size and function of the heart as well as deafness.
The make-up of the cytoskeleton is also related to the pathogenicity of intracellular bacteria and viruses, particularly in the processes related to evading the actions of the immune system.
The actin in the cytoskeleton is involved in the pathogenic mechanisms of many infectious agents, including HIV. The actin cytoskeleton is a key target of numerous microbial pathogens, including protozoa, fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
Terahertz (THz) waves are a novel method of modulating actin polymerization. Results suggest that THz waves could be applied for manipulating biomolecules and cells.
Because filamentous actin has pivotal roles in the functions of normal and pathological cells, including metastasis of cancer cells, various chemical compounds affecting actin polymerization have been analyzed for research and therapeutic purposes. Findings of the enhancement of actin polymerization by THz irradiation suggest a novel possibility of artificial manipulation of biomolecules and living cells using THz waves.
THz irradiation inhibits cell division by affecting actin dynamics
These results also indicate that the THz frequency could be applicable for nondestructive manipulation of cellular functions by modulation of actin filaments.