A cell constantly adapts to its environment. Cell decisions to survive, to proliferate or to migrate are dictated not only by soluble growth factors, but also through the direct interaction of the cell with the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM). Integrins and their connections to the actin cytoskeleton are crucial for monitoring cell attachment and the physical properties of the substratum. Cell adhesion dynamics are modulated in complex ways by the polymerization of branched and linear actin arrays, which in turn reinforce ECM-cytoskeleton connection. This review describes the major actin regulators, Ena/VASP proteins, formins and Arp2/3 complexes, in the context of signaling pathways downstream of integrins. We focus on the specific signaling pathways that transduce the rigidity of the substrate and which control durotaxis, i.e. directed migration of cells towards increased ECM rigidity. By doing so, we highlight several recent findings on mechanotransduction and put them into a broad integrative perspective that is the result of decades of intense research on the actin cytoskeleton and its regulation.

You do not currently have access to this content.