The discovery of actin: “to see what everyone else has seen, and to think what nobody has thought”*

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Actin is among the most highly abundant and ubiquitous proteins in eukaryotic cells. The structure, dynamics and functional diversity of actin have continued to mesmerise cell and molecular biologists, biophysicists and physiologists for more than three quarters of a century. The discovery and initial characterization of actin, which took place in the laboratory of Albert Szent-Györgyi by Ilona Banga and Brúnó F. Straub during the second world war in Hungary, is a remarkable and inspiring moment in the history of science. Many of the early thoughts and ideas on the properties and functions of actin and particularly actomyosin, which are referred to in this short historical overview, resonate freshly even today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2020



  • Actin
  • Actomyosin
  • Albert Szent-Györgyi
  • Brúnó F. Straub
  • Ilona Banga
  • Muscle contraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology

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