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Microfilaments – Definition, Structure, Function

Microfilaments Definition Because they are made up of two strands of the globular protein actin, microfilaments are also referred to as actin filaments. They are ...

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Microfilaments Definition

Because they are made up of two strands of the globular protein actin, microfilaments are also referred to as actin filaments. They are the tiniest filaments of the cytoskeleton and are polymers of the protein actin. They’re crucial for things like cell division, muscular contraction, and movement.

  • The active or motile component of the cytoskeleton consists of thin, solid microfilaments of actin protein, with diameters of 5 to 7 nm and lengths of undetermined size.
  • It appears that they have a significant function in cyclosis and amoeboid movement. Microfilaments have been seen in three dimensions using high voltage electron microscopy (i.e., an image of microtrabecular lattice).
  • Cytochalasin-B is an alkaloid that inhibits microfilament function as well as cell motility, cytokinesis, endocytosis, and exocytosis.
  • Most scientists agree that non-muscle cells rely on cytochalasin-B-sensitive microfilaments as their contractile machinery.

Distribution of Microfilaments

  • Microfilaments tend to be found in the sub-plasma membrane cytoplasmic granules of most cells.
  • In contrast, microtubules and intermediate filaments are located in the cell’s subcortical and deeper areas.
  • Microfilaments can be found throughout cellular processes, especially in dynamic areas.
  • As a result, they are present in the microvilli of the brush border of intestinal epitheliun and in other cell types characterised by amoeboid movement and cytoplasmic streaming.

Chemical Composition of Microfilaments (Structure of Microfilaments)

  • The protein actin is crucial to the structure of microfilaments.
  • Actin is found in non-muscle cells at unusually high concentrations, perhaps as much as 10% of total cell protein.
  • It may be isolated, and subsequent polymerization reactions from the Gactin monomer state to F-actin can be observed in vitro.
  • In reality, the conventional sol-gel transition in the cytoplasm of actively migrating cells is predicated on the transformation of actin from globular (=G actin) to fibrillar (=F-actin).
  • There are also three actins present, designated as α , β and γ. Mature muscular tissue contains the α-actin isoform.
  • The second and third types are more common in nerve and fat cells than in muscle. Microfilaments, being actin-based, can bind myosin even in non-muscle cells (a contractile protein).
  • Coating or “decorating” microfilaments with heavy myosin (HMM) or S1 heads is possible in both vitro and in vivo.
  • As a result of this binding, the microfilaments take on the shape of an arrowhead, with each arrowhead pointing in the same direction.
  • This organisation suggests that microfilaments are polar, a characteristic likely essential to their function as mediators of cell motions.
  • For microfilament detection and localization in any type of cell, the HMM binding approach has emerged as a powerful tool. HMM does not adorn intermediate filaments.
Structure of Microfilaments

Function of Microfilaments

  • Movement associated with furrow formation in cell division, cytoplasmic streaming in plant cells (such as Nitella and Chara), and cell migration during embryonic development have all been linked to microfilaments.
  • These filaments provide structural support for the cell and are made of a pliable yet remarkably strong polymer that is resistant to buckling and crushing.
  • Microfilaments are highly adaptable components that serve crucial functions in cytokinesis and cell shape maintenance. Due to its adaptable framework of filaments, it can aid in the migration of cells.
  • Actomyosin is a molecular motor that causes contractions, and the filaments play a crucial role in this process. In these procedures, the thin filaments enlarge into platforms on which myosins can pull. It happens most often during the process of creating and shortening pseudopods.
  • The microfilaments give the cell its form and stiffness. They can quickly dismantle and re-uniform, allowing a cell to change its shape and move in response to its environment. The white blood cells make effective use of this capacity, which allows them to travel to the site of illness and drown out the pathogens there.


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  • https://biologydictionary.net/microfilament/
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  • https://microbenotes.com/microfilaments-structure-and-functions/



MN Editors. (December 2, 2022).Microfilaments – Definition, Structure, Function. Retrieved from https://microbiologynote.com/microfilaments/


MN Editors. "Microfilaments – Definition, Structure, Function." Microbiology Note, Microbiologynote.com, December 2, 2022.


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