Actin dynamics at sites of extracellular matrix degradation

Massimiliano Baldassarre, Inmaculada Ayala, Galina Beznoussenko, Giada Giacchetti, Laura M Machesky, Alberto Luini, Roberto Buccione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


The degradation of extracellular matrix (ECM) by proteases is crucial in physiological and pathological cell invasion alike. In vitro, degradation occurs at specific sites where invasive cells make contact with the ECM via specialized plasma membrane protrusions termed invadopodia. Here we present an extensive morpho-functional analysis of invadopodia actively engaged in ECM degradation and show that they are actin comet-based structures, not unlike the well-known bacteria-propelling actin tails. The relative mapping of the basic molecular components of invadopodia to actin tails is also provided. Finally, a live-imaging analysis of invadopodia highlights the intrinsic long-term stability of the structures coupled to a highly dynamic actin turnover. The results offer new insight into the tight coordination between signalling, actin remodelling and trafficking activities occurring at sites of focalized ECM degradation by invadopodia. In conclusion, invadopodia-associated actin comets are a striking example of consistently arising, spontaneous expression of actin-driven propulsion events that also represent a valuable experimental paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-1231
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Cell Biology
Issue number12
Early online date28 Sep 2006
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • Actins
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane Structures
  • Cell Surface Extensions
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Humans
  • Melanoma
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Skin Neoplasms


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