• Medeiros NA, Burnette DT, Forscher P. Myosin II functions in actin-bundle turnover in neuronal growth cones. Nature cell biology. 2006 Mar;8(3). 215-26. PMID: 16501565 [PubMed].


Retrograde actin flow works in concert with cell adhesion to generate traction forces that are involved in axon guidance in neuronal growth cones. Myosins have been implicated in retrograde flow, but identification of the specific myosin subtype(s) involved has been controversial. Using fluorescent speckle microscopy (FSM) to assess actin dynamics, we report that inhibition of myosin II alone decreases retrograde flow by 51% and the remaining flow can be almost fully accounted for by the 'push' of plus-end actin assembly at the leading edge of the growth cone. Interestingly, actin bundles that are associated with filopodium roots elongated by approximately 83% after inhibition of myosin II. This unexpected result was due to decreased rates of actin-bundle severing near their proximal (minus or pointed) ends which are located in the transition zone of the growth cone. Our study reveals a mechanism for the regulation of actin-bundle length by myosin II that is dependent on actin-bundle severing, and demonstrate that retrograde flow is a steady state that depends on both myosin II contractility and actin-network treadmilling.