F-Actin vs. G-Actin

What's the Difference?

F-actin and G-actin are two forms of actin proteins that play crucial roles in cellular functions. F-actin, also known as filamentous actin, is a polymerized form of G-actin. It forms long, helical chains that make up the structural framework of the cell, providing stability and support. F-actin is involved in various cellular processes such as cell movement, muscle contraction, and cell division. On the other hand, G-actin, or globular actin, is the monomeric form of actin. It exists in a soluble state and can polymerize to form F-actin when needed. G-actin is involved in processes like cell signaling, cytoskeleton remodeling, and protein synthesis. Overall, F-actin and G-actin work together to maintain the structural integrity of the cell and regulate its dynamic functions.


StructureLong, filamentousGlobular
PolymerF-ActinNot polymerized
Size7-9 nm in diameter5-6 nm in diameter
FunctionInvolved in cell structure, cell movement, and muscle contractionInvolved in protein synthesis and regulation of cell processes
LocationFound in the cytoskeletonFound in the cytoplasm
Binding ProteinsActin-binding proteinsActin-binding proteins

Further Detail


Actin is a highly conserved protein that plays a crucial role in various cellular processes, including cell motility, cell division, and intracellular transport. Actin exists in two main forms: F-actin (filamentous actin) and G-actin (globular actin). While both forms are structurally similar, they exhibit distinct characteristics and functions within the cell. In this article, we will explore and compare the attributes of F-actin and G-actin, shedding light on their roles and significance in cellular processes.


F-actin and G-actin share a common structural framework, consisting of a globular domain and a helical domain. However, their arrangement and organization differ. G-actin is the monomeric form of actin, comprising a single globular subunit. These subunits can polymerize to form F-actin, which consists of two intertwined helical strands. The helical structure of F-actin provides stability and rigidity to the filament, allowing it to withstand mechanical forces within the cell.

Furthermore, G-actin possesses a binding site for ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is essential for actin polymerization. In contrast, F-actin lacks the ATP-binding site, as the ATP molecules are hydrolyzed to ADP (adenosine diphosphate) upon polymerization. This hydrolysis of ATP provides energy for actin filament assembly and disassembly, enabling dynamic remodeling of the cytoskeleton.


Both F-actin and G-actin play crucial roles in cellular processes, but their functions differ. G-actin primarily acts as a monomer, participating in various processes such as signal transduction, gene expression, and protein synthesis. It serves as a reservoir for actin polymerization, providing the necessary building blocks for F-actin formation.

F-actin, on the other hand, forms the backbone of the cytoskeleton and is responsible for maintaining cell shape, providing mechanical support, and facilitating cell motility. It also serves as a track for intracellular transport, allowing the movement of vesicles and organelles within the cell. Additionally, F-actin is involved in cell division, as it plays a crucial role in cytokinesis, the process by which the cytoplasm is divided between daughter cells.


The regulation of F-actin and G-actin dynamics is essential for maintaining cellular homeostasis. G-actin exists in equilibrium with F-actin, and this equilibrium is tightly regulated by various actin-binding proteins. These proteins can either promote actin polymerization or depolymerization, depending on the cellular context.

For example, profilin is an actin-binding protein that binds to G-actin and promotes its incorporation into F-actin filaments. On the other hand, cofilin is a protein that binds to F-actin and enhances its depolymerization, leading to the disassembly of actin filaments. This dynamic regulation of actin polymerization and depolymerization allows cells to rapidly remodel their cytoskeleton in response to external cues or internal signals.


F-actin and G-actin exhibit distinct localization patterns within the cell. G-actin is predominantly found in the cytoplasm, where it participates in various cellular processes. It can also translocate to the nucleus, where it plays a role in gene expression and chromatin remodeling.

In contrast, F-actin is highly enriched at the cell periphery, forming cortical actin networks that provide mechanical support to the plasma membrane. It is also present in stress fibers, which are contractile bundles of actin filaments that generate forces required for cell migration and adhesion. Additionally, F-actin is found in specialized structures such as filopodia and lamellipodia, which are involved in cell protrusion and movement.


Both F-actin and G-actin interact with a wide range of proteins, allowing them to participate in diverse cellular processes. G-actin interacts with actin-binding proteins such as profilin, thymosin β4, and capping proteins, which regulate actin polymerization and depolymerization.

F-actin, on the other hand, interacts with myosin motors, which enable actin-based cellular movements. Myosin binds to F-actin and utilizes ATP hydrolysis to generate force and movement along actin filaments. This interaction between F-actin and myosin is crucial for processes such as muscle contraction, cell migration, and vesicle transport.


In summary, F-actin and G-actin are two distinct forms of actin that exhibit different attributes and functions within the cell. While G-actin serves as a monomeric form, participating in various cellular processes, F-actin forms the backbone of the cytoskeleton and is involved in cell shape maintenance, cell motility, and intracellular transport. The dynamic regulation of actin polymerization and depolymerization, as well as the interactions with various actin-binding proteins and myosin motors, allow F-actin and G-actin to carry out their respective roles in cellular processes. Understanding the attributes of F-actin and G-actin is crucial for unraveling the complex mechanisms underlying actin-mediated cellular functions.

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