Gene regulation through dynamic actin control of nuclear structure

Jeyantt Sankaran, Gunes Uzer, Andre J. van Wijnen, Janet Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells exist in a multipotential state, where osteogenic and adipogenic genomes are silenced in heterochromatin at the inner nuclear leaflet. Physical force, generated in the marrow space during dynamic exercise exerts control overexpression of differentiation. Mesenchymal stem cells experience mechanical force through their cytoskeletal attachments to substrate, inducing signaling that alters gene expression. The generated force is further transferred from the cytoskeleton to the nucleoskeleton through tethering of actin to Linker of Nucleus and Cytoskeleton (LINC) complexes. Forces exerted on LINC alter the shape and placement of the nucleus within the cell, and are ultimately transferred into the nucleus. LINC complexes transverse the nuclear membrane and connect to the internal nucleoskeleton that is made up of lamin filaments and actin. Force transfer through LINC thus causes structural rearrangements of the nuclear scaffolding upon which chromosomes are arranged. Gene availability is not only modulated through heterochromatin remodeling enzymes and active transcription factors but also by control of nucleoskeletal structure and nuclear enzymes that mediate actin polymerization in the nucleus. Nuclear actin structure may be affected by similar force-activated pathways as those controlling the cytoplasmic actin cytoskeleton and represent a critical determinant of mesenchymal stem cell lineage commitment. Impact statement: Gene expression is controlled by nuclear structure which is modulated by both internal and external forces exerted on the nucleoskeleton. Extracellular forces experienced through the actin cytoskeleton are transmitted to the internal nucleoskeleton via Linker of Nucleus and Cytoskeleton (LINC) protein connections. LINC complexes directly alter nuclear shape and entry of molecules that regulate transcription. New mechanistic models indicate that nuclear actin is a dynamic component of the filamentous nucleoskeleton and modified by an intranuclear “actin toolbox”, a set of enzymes that regulate linear and branched polymerization of nuclear actin. External stimulation of both biomechanical and biochemical pathways alters nuclear actin structure and has profound effects on gene expression by controlling chromatin architecture and transcription factor access to gene targets. The available data indicate that nucleoskeletal control of gene expression is critical for self-renewal and mesenchymal lineage-allocation in stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1345-1353
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number15
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Linker of Nucleus and Cytoskeleton
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • cytoskeleton
  • mechanobiology
  • osteoblast
  • β-catenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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