Actin Isoforms in Neuronal Development and Function

Thomas R. Cheever, James M. Ervasti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Scopus citations


The actin cytoskeleton contributes directly or indirectly to nearly every aspect of neuronal development and function. This diversity of functions is often attributed to actin regulatory proteins, although how the composition of the actin cytoskeleton itself may influence its function is often overlooked. In neurons, the actin cytoskeleton is composed of two distinct isoforms, β- and γ-actin. Functions for β-actin have been investigated in axon guidance, synaptogenesis, and disease. Insight from loss-of-function in vivo studies has also revealed novel roles for β-actin in select brain structures and behaviors. Conversely, very little is known regarding functions of γ-actin in neurons. The dysregulation or mutation of both β- and γ-actin has been implicated in multiple human neurological disorders, however, demonstrating the critical importance of these still poorly understood proteins. This chapter highlights what is currently known regarding potential distinct functions for β- and γ-actin in neurons as well as the significant areas that remain unexplored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Review of Cell and Molecular Biology
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages57
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Cell and Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1937-6448

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Drs Ben Perrin and Sarah Greising for helpful comments on this manuscript. We also regret omitting the citation of any studies pertaining to this subject. Work relating to the focus of this review was conducted in the authors’ laboratory with funding from the National Institutes of Health Training Program in Muscle Research ( AR007612 ) and a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship to T.R.C. and a grant from the National Institutes of Health ( AR049899 ) to J.M.E.


  • Actin
  • Axon guidance
  • Behavior
  • Dendritic spines
  • Growth cones
  • Hippocampus
  • MRNA localization
  • Neurons


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