Microvilli are tiny, finger-like projections that form a tessellated surface on the cell membrane of many types of cells, including those in the intestinal epithelium, kidney tubules, and other organs. Their function is to increase the surface area of the cell membrane, allowing for increased absorption of molecules and ions in the body. In addition, they are involved in sensory processes such as mechanotransduction and chemotransduction.

The microvilli are made up of an actin meshwork, which is anchored to the cell membrane by a variety of proteins, including ezrin, radixin, and moesin. The actin meshwork is further stabilized by actin-binding proteins such as villin and fimbrin. These proteins interact with the cell membrane to form a meshwork of filaments, which serves as the structural basis for the microvilli.

The microvilli are involved in many processes, including absorption, secretion, and sensation. For instance, in the small intestine, the microvilli are involved in the absorption of nutrients such as glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids. They also play a role in the secretion of hormones and other compounds, as well as in mechanotransduction and chemotransduction.

In terms of mechanotransduction, microvilli are responsible for detecting changes in mechanical stimuli, such as pressure or vibration, and translating them into electrical signals. These signals are then transmitted to the cell’s nucleus, where they can be used to control cellular functions. Microvilli also play a role in chemotransduction, which is the process by which cells detect and respond to chemical signals in their environment.

In addition to their role in absorption, secretion, and sensation, microvilli are also involved in cell adhesion. Microvilli are able to interact with other cells, allowing them to adhere to one another and form junctions. These junctions play an important role in the development and maintenance of tissues and organs.

Overall, microvilli are an essential part of many cells and organs, playing a role in absorption, secretion, sensation, and cell adhesion. They are made up of an actin meshwork, which is stabilized by a variety of proteins, and they serve to increase the surface area of the cell membrane. Understanding the structure and function of microvilli is essential for a better understanding of how cells and tissues interact and communicate with one another.


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Gonzalez, A., & Nelson, W. J. (2009). Microvilli: A multifunctional cellular organelle. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, 25(1), 535-568.

Kang, H., & Huang, S. (2010). Microvilli and their associated cytoskeleton: Structure, assembly, and functions. Journal of Molecular Biology, 400(4), 691-709.

Schnell, M., & Clevers, H. (2016). The many faces of adherens junctions. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 17(7), 403-417.

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