Dynamic stability of the actin ecosystem
In cells, actin filaments continuously assemble and disassemble while maintaining an apparently constant network structure. This suggests a perfect balance between dynamic processes. Such behavior, operating far out of equilibrium by the hydrolysis of ATP, is called a dynamic steady state. This dynamic steady state confers a high degree of plasticity to cytoskeleton networks that allows them to adapt and optimize their architecture in response to external changes on short time-scales, thus permitting cells to adjust to their environment. In this Review, we summarize what is known about the cellular actin steady state, and what gaps remain in our understanding of this fundamental dynamic process that balances the different forms of actin organization in a cell. We focus on the minimal steps to achieve a steady state, discuss the potential feedback mechanisms at play to balance this steady state and conclude with an outlook on what is needed to fully understand its molecular nature.