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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Serum response factor is crucial for actin cytoskeletal organization and focal adhesion assembly in embryonic stem cells.

The activity of serum response factor (SRF), an essential transcription factor in mouse gastrulation, is regulated by changes in actin dynamics. Using Srf(-/-) embryonic stem (ES) cells, we demonstrate that SRF deficiency causes impairments in ES cell spreading, adhesion, and migration. These defects correlate with defective formation of cytoskeletal structures, namely actin stress fibers and focal adhesion (FA) plaques. The FA proteins FA kinase (FAK), beta1-integrin, talin, zyxin, and vinculin were downregulated and/or mislocalized in ES cells lacking SRF, leading to inefficient activation of the FA signaling kinase FAK. Reduced overall actin expression levels in Srf(-/-) ES cells were accompanied by an offset treadmilling equilibrium, resulting in lowered F-actin levels. Expression of active RhoA-V14 rescued F-actin synthesis but not stress fiber formation. Introduction of constitutively active SRF-VP16 into Srf(-/-) ES cells, on the other hand, strongly induced expression of FA components and F-actin synthesis, leading to a dramatic reorganization of actin filaments into stress fibers and lamellipodia. Thus, using ES cell genetics, we demonstrate for the first time the importance of SRF for the formation of actin-directed cytoskeletal structures that determine cell spreading, adhesion, and migration. Our findings suggest an involvement of SRF in cell migratory processes in multicellular organisms.[1]


  1. Serum response factor is crucial for actin cytoskeletal organization and focal adhesion assembly in embryonic stem cells. Schratt, G., Philippar, U., Berger, J., Schwarz, H., Heidenreich, O., Nordheim, A. J. Cell Biol. (2002) [Pubmed]
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