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1.  Activation of ADF/cofilin by phosphorylation-regulated Slingshot phosphatase is required for the meiotic spindle assembly in Xenopus laevis oocytes 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(12):1933-1946.
Phosphorylation of Xenopus Slingshot phosphatase (XSSH) at multiple sites within the tail domain occurs just after germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) and is accompanied by dephosphorylation of ADF/cofilin (XAC). Injection of anti-XSSH antibody, which blocks full phosphorylation of XSSH after GVBD, inhibits meiotic spindle formation and XAC dephosphorylation.
We identify Xenopus ADF/cofilin (XAC) and its activator, Slingshot phosphatase (XSSH), as key regulators of actin dynamics essential for spindle microtubule assembly during Xenopus oocyte maturation. Phosphorylation of XSSH at multiple sites within the tail domain occurs just after germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) and is accompanied by dephosphorylation of XAC, which was mostly phosphorylated in immature oocytes. This XAC dephosphorylation after GVBD is completely suppressed by latrunculin B, an actin monomer–sequestering drug. On the other hand, jasplakinolide, an F-actin–stabilizing drug, induces dephosphorylation of XAC. Effects of latrunculin B and jasplakinolide are reconstituted in cytostatic factor–arrested extracts (CSF extracts), and XAC dephosphorylation is abolished by depletion of XSSH from CSF extracts, suggesting that XSSH functions as an actin filament sensor to facilitate actin filament dynamics via XAC activation. Injection of anti-XSSH antibody, which blocks full phosphorylation of XSSH after GVBD, inhibits both meiotic spindle formation and XAC dephosphorylation. Coinjection of constitutively active XAC with the antibody suppresses this phenotype. Treatment of oocytes with jasplakinolide also impairs spindle formation. These results strongly suggest that elevation of actin dynamics by XAC activation through XSSH phosphorylation is required for meiotic spindle assembly in Xenopus laevis.
PMCID: PMC3681698  PMID: 23615437
2.  Xenopus laevis actin-depolymerizing factor/cofilin: a phosphorylation- regulated protein essential for development 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1996;132(5):871-885.
Two cDNAs, isolated from a Xenopus laevis embryonic library, encode proteins of 168 amino acids, both of which are 77% identical to chick cofilin and 66% identical to chick actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF), two structurally and functionally related proteins. These Xenopus ADF/cofilins (XADs) differ from each other in 12 residues spread throughout the sequence but do not differ in charge. Purified GST- fusion proteins have pH-dependent actin-depolymerizing and F-actin- binding activities similar to chick ADF and cofilin. Similarities in the developmental and tissue specific expression, embryonic localization, and in the cDNA sequence of the noncoding regions, suggest that the two XACs arise from allelic variants of the pseudotetraploid X. laevis. Immunofluorescence localization of XAC in oocyte sections with an XAC-specific monoclonal antibody shows it to be diffuse in the cortical cytoplasm. After fertilization, increased immunostaining is observed in two regions: along the membrane, particularly that of the vegetal hemisphere, and at the interface between the cortical and animal hemisphere cytoplasm. The cleavage furrow and the mid-body structure are stained at the end of first cleavage. Neuroectoderm derived tissues, notochord, somites, and epidermis stain heavily either continuously or transiently from stages 18-34. A phosphorylated form of XAC (pXAC) was identified by 2D Western blotting, and it is the only species found in oocytes. Dephosphorylation of >60% of the pXAC occurs within 30 min after fertilization. Injection of one blastomere at the 2 cell stage, either with constitutively active XAC or with an XAC inhibitory antibody, blocked cleavage of only the injected blastomere in a concentration- dependent manner without inhibiting nuclear division. The cleavage furrow of eggs injected with constitutively active XAC completely regressed. Blastomeres injected with neutralized antibody developed normally. These results suggest that XAC is necessary for cytokinesis and that its activity must be properly regulated for cleavage to occur.
PMCID: PMC2120733  PMID: 8603919
3.  Actin Depolymerizing Factor (ADF/Cofilin) Enhances the Rate of Filament Turnover: Implication in Actin-based Motility 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;136(6):1307-1322.
Actin-binding proteins of the actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin family are thought to control actin-based motile processes. ADF1 from Arabidopsis thaliana appears to be a good model that is functionally similar to other members of the family. The function of ADF in actin dynamics has been examined using a combination of physical–chemical methods and actin-based motility assays, under physiological ionic conditions and at pH 7.8. ADF binds the ADPbound forms of G- or F-actin with an affinity two orders of magnitude higher than the ATP- or ADP-Pi– bound forms. A major property of ADF is its ability to enhance the in vitro turnover rate (treadmilling) of actin filaments to a value comparable to that observed in vivo in motile lamellipodia. ADF increases the rate of propulsion of Listeria monocytogenes in highly diluted, ADF-limited platelet extracts and shortens the actin tails. These effects are mediated by the participation of ADF in actin filament assembly, which results in a change in the kinetic parameters at the two ends of the actin filament. The kinetic effects of ADF are end specific and cannot be accounted for by filament severing. The main functionally relevant effect is a 25-fold increase in the rate of actin dissociation from the pointed ends, while the rate of dissociation from the barbed ends is unchanged. This large increase in the rate-limiting step of the monomer-polymer cycle at steady state is responsible for the increase in the rate of actin-based motile processes. In conclusion, the function of ADF is not to sequester G-actin. ADF uses ATP hydrolysis in actin assembly to enhance filament dynamics.
PMCID: PMC2132522  PMID: 9087445
4.  Turnover of branched actin filament networks by stochastic fragmentation with ADF/cofilin 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(14):2541-2550.
During actin-based motility, capping protein influences actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin binding that increases in space and time concomitant with the state of the nucleotide associated to the actin subunits. ADF/cofilin induces microscopic fragmentation of the actin network, which induces turnover through a macroscopic, stochastic dynamic mechanism.
Cell motility depends on the rapid assembly, aging, severing, and disassembly of actin filaments in spatially distinct zones. How a set of actin regulatory proteins that sustains actin-based force generation during motility work together in space and time remains poorly understood. We present our study of the distribution and dynamics of Arp2/3 complex, capping protein (CP), and actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin in actin “comet tails,” using a minimal reconstituted system with nucleation-promoting factor (NPF)-coated beads. The Arp2/3 complex concentrates at nucleation sites near the beads as well as in the first actin shell. CP colocalizes with actin and is homogeneously distributed throughout the comet tail; it serves to constrain the spatial distribution of ATP/ADP-Pi filament zones to areas near the bead. The association of ADF/cofilin with the actin network is therefore governed by kinetics of actin assembly, actin nucleotide state, and CP binding. A kinetic simulation accurately validates these observations. Following its binding to the actin networks, ADF/cofilin is able to break up the dense actin filament array of a comet tail. Stochastic severing by ADF/cofilin loosens the tight entanglement of actin filaments inside the comet tail and facilitates turnover through the macroscopic release of large portions of the aged actin network.
PMCID: PMC3135479  PMID: 21613547
5.  Actin-depolymerizing Factor and Cofilin-1 Play Overlapping Roles in Promoting Rapid F-Actin Depolymerization in Mammalian Nonmuscle CellsD⃞V⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(2):649-664.
Actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilins are small actin-binding proteins found in all eukaryotes. In vitro, ADF/cofilins promote actin dynamics by depolymerizing and severing actin filaments. However, whether ADF/cofilins contribute to actin dynamics in cells by disassembling “old” actin filaments or by promoting actin filament assembly through their severing activity is a matter of controversy. Analysis of mammalian ADF/cofilins is further complicated by the presence of multiple isoforms, which may contribute to actin dynamics by different mechanisms. We show that two isoforms, ADF and cofilin-1, are expressed in mouse NIH 3T3, B16F1, and Neuro 2A cells. Depleting cofilin-1 and/or ADF by siRNA leads to an accumulation of F-actin and to an increase in cell size. Cofilin-1 and ADF seem to play overlapping roles in cells, because the knockdown phenotype of either protein could be rescued by overexpression of the other one. Cofilin-1 and ADF knockdown cells also had defects in cell motility and cytokinesis, and these defects were most pronounced when both ADF and cofilin-1 were depleted. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching analysis and studies with an actin monomer-sequestering drug, latrunculin-A, demonstrated that these phenotypes arose from diminished actin filament depolymerization rates. These data suggest that mammalian ADF and cofilin-1 promote cytoskeletal dynamics by depolymerizing actin filaments and that this activity is critical for several processes such as cytokinesis and cell motility.
PMCID: PMC545901  PMID: 15548599
6.  14-3-3 Proteins Regulate Retinal Axon Growth by Modulating ADF/Cofilin Activity 
Developmental neurobiology  2012;72(4):600-614.
Precise navigation of axons to their targets is critical for establishing proper neuronal networks during development. Axon elongation, whereby axons extend far beyond the site of initiation to reach their target cells, is an essential step in this process, but the precise molecular pathways that regulate axon growth remain uncharacterized. Here we show that 14-3-3/14-3-3ς proteins—adaptor proteins that modulate diverse cellular processes including cytoskeletal dynamics—play a critical role in Xenopus retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axon elongation in vivo and in vitro. We have identified the expression of 14-3-3/14-3-3ς transcripts and proteins in retinal growth cones, with higher levels of expression occurring during the phase of rapid pathway extension. Competitive inhibition of 14-3-3/14-3-3ς by expression of a genetically encoded peptide, R18, in RGCs resulted in a marked decrease in the length of the initial retinotectal projection in vivo and a corresponding decrease in axon elongation rate in vitro (30–40%). Furthermore, 14-3-3/14-3-3ς (R1) co-localized with Xenopus actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin (XAC) in RGC growth cones. Inhibition of 14-3-3/14-3-3ς function with either R18 or morpholinos reduced the level of inactive pXAC and increased the sensitivity to collapse by the repulsive cue, Slit2. Collectively, these results demonstrate that 14-3-3/14-3-3ς participates in the regulation of retinal axon elongation, in part by modulating XAC activity.
PMCID: PMC3682208  PMID: 21780304
growth cone; retinal ganglion cell; axon elongation; cytoskeleton; 14-3-3; ADF/cofilin
7.  The Three Mouse Actin-depolymerizing Factor/Cofilins Evolved to Fulfill Cell-Type–specific Requirements for Actin Dynamics 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2002;13(1):183-194.
Actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilins are essential regulators of actin filament turnover. Several ADF/cofilin isoforms are found in multicellular organisms, but their biological differences have remained unclear. Herein, we show that three ADF/cofilins exist in mouse and most likely in all other mammalian species. Northern blot and in situ hybridization analyses demonstrate that cofilin-1 is expressed in most cell types of embryos and adult mice. Cofilin-2 is expressed in muscle cells and ADF is restricted to epithelia and endothelia. Although the three mouse ADF/cofilins do not show actin isoform specificity, they all depolymerize platelet actin filaments more efficiently than muscle actin. Furthermore, these ADF/cofilins are biochemically different. The epithelial-specific ADF is the most efficient in turning over actin filaments and promotes a stronger pH-dependent actin filament disassembly than the two other isoforms. The muscle-specific cofilin-2 has a weaker actin filament depolymerization activity and displays a 5–10-fold higher affinity for ATP-actin monomers than cofilin-1 and ADF. In steady-state assays, cofilin-2 also promotes filament assembly rather than disassembly. Taken together, these data suggest that the three biochemically distinct mammalian ADF/cofilin isoforms evolved to fulfill specific requirements for actin filament dynamics in different cell types.
PMCID: PMC65081  PMID: 11809832
8.  A Mechanism for Actin Filament Severing by Malaria Parasite Actin Depolymerizing Factor 1 via a Low Affinity Binding Interface*  
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;289(7):4043-4054.
Background: Plasmodium falciparum actin depolymerizing factor 1 (PfADF1) severs actin polymers without stable filament-binding, challenging current models for severing.
Results: Cross-linking mass spectrometry of PfADF1 with filamentous actin reveals a novel binding interface required for severing.
Conclusion: Filament severing by PfADF1 is via a previously unidentified binding interface.
Significance: We propose an alternative mechanism for actin filament severing potentially used across eukaryotic cells.
Actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilins are essential regulators of actin turnover in eukaryotic cells. These multifunctional proteins facilitate both stabilization and severing of filamentous (F)-actin in a concentration-dependent manner. At high concentrations ADF/cofilins bind stably to F-actin longitudinally between two adjacent actin protomers forming what is called a decorative interaction. Low densities of ADF/cofilins, in contrast, result in the optimal severing of the filament. To date, how these two contrasting modalities are achieved by the same protein remains uncertain. Here, we define the proximate amino acids between the actin filament and the malaria parasite ADF/cofilin, PfADF1 from Plasmodium falciparum. PfADF1 is unique among ADF/cofilins in being able to sever F-actin but do so without stable filament binding. Using chemical cross-linking and mass spectrometry (XL-MS) combined with structure reconstruction we describe a previously overlooked binding interface on the actin filament targeted by PfADF1. This site is distinct from the known binding site that defines decoration. Furthermore, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy imaging of single actin filaments confirms that this novel low affinity site is required for F-actin severing. Exploring beyond malaria parasites, selective blocking of the decoration site with human cofilin (HsCOF1) using cytochalasin D increases its severing rate. HsCOF1 may therefore also use a decoration-independent site for filament severing. Thus our data suggest that a second, low affinity actin-binding site may be universally used by ADF/cofilins for actin filament severing.
PMCID: PMC3924271  PMID: 24371134
Actin; Cofilin; Cytoskeleton; Electron Microscopy (EM); Malaria; Mass Spectrometry (MS); Plasmodium; Protein Cross-linking
9.  Gelsolin, a Protein That Caps the Barbed Ends and Severs Actin Filaments, Enhances the Actin-Based Motility of Listeria monocytogenes in Host Cells 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(8):3775-3782.
The actin-based motility of Listeria monocytogenes requires the addition of actin monomers to the barbed or plus ends of actin filaments. Immunofluorescence micrographs have demonstrated that gelsolin, a protein that both caps barbed ends and severs actin filaments, is concentrated directly behind motile bacteria at the junction between the actin filament rocket tail and the bacterium. In contrast, CapG, a protein that strictly caps actin filaments, fails to localize near intracellular Listeria. To explore the effect of increasing concentrations of gelsolin on bacterial motility, NIH 3T3 fibroblasts stably transfected with gelsolin cDNA were infected with Listeria. The C5 cell line containing 2.25 times control levels of gelsolin supported significantly higher velocities of bacterial movement than did control fibroblasts (mean ± standard error of the mean, 0.09 ± 0.003 μm/s [n = 176] versus 0.05 ± 0.003 μm/s [n = 65]). The rate of disassembly of the Listeria-induced actin filament rocket tail was found to be independent of gelsolin content. Therefore, if increases in gelsolin content result in increases in Listeria-induced rocket tail assembly rates, a positive correlation between gelsolin content and tail length would be expected. BODIPY-phalloidin staining of four different stably transfected NIH 3T3 fibroblast cell lines confirmed this expectation (r = 0.92). Rocket tails were significantly longer in cells with a high gelsolin content. Microinjection of gelsolin 1/2 (consisting of the amino-terminal half of native gelsolin) also increased bacterial velocity by more than 2.2 times. Microinjection of CapG had no effect on bacterial movement. Cultured skin fibroblasts derived from gelsolin-null mice were capable of supporting intracellular Listeria motility at velocities comparable to those supported by wild-type skin fibroblasts. These experiments demonstrated that the surface of Listeria contains a polymerization zone that can block the barbed-end-capping activity of both gelsolin and CapG. The ability of Listeria to uncap actin filaments combined with the severing activity of gelsolin can accelerate actin-based motility. However, gelsolin is not absolutely required for the actin-based intracellular movement of Listeria because its function can be replaced by other actin regulatory proteins in gelsolin-null cells, demonstrating the functional redundancy of the actin system.
PMCID: PMC108414  PMID: 9673261
10.  Cofilin Modulates the Nucleotide State of Actin Filaments and Severs at Boundaries of Bare and Decorated Segments 
Current biology : CB  2011;21(10):862-868.
Cell motility driven by actin filament assembly demands the spatial and temporal coordination of numerous regulatory Actin Binding Proteins (ABPs) [1], many of which bind with affinities and kinetics that depend on the chemical state (ATP, ADP-Pi or ADP) of actin filament subunits. ADF/cofilin, one of three ABPs that precisely choreograph actin assembly and organization into “comet-tails” that drive motility in reconstituted in vitro systems [2], binds and stochastically severs “aged” ADP actin filament segments of de novo growing actin filaments [3]. Severing increases the density of filament ends from which subunits can add and dissociate, thereby increasing overall actin filament assembly dynamics. Deficiencies in methodologies to track in real time the nucleotide state of actin filaments as well as ADF/cofilin severing limits the molecular understanding of coupling between actin filament chemical and mechanical states and severing. We engineered a fluorescently labeled ADF/cofilin that retains actin filament binding and severing activities. Since ADF/cofilin binding depends strongly on the actin-bound nucleotide direct visualization of fluorescent ADF/cofilin binding serves as a marker of the actin filament nucleotide state and permits assessment of the “ATP/ADP-Pi cap” length of individual actin filaments during assembly and elongation. Bound ADF/cofilin allosterically accelerates Pi release from unoccupied filament subunits, which shortens the filament ATP/ADP-Pi cap length by nearly an order of magnitude. Rapid elongation far exceeds ADF/cofilin-acceleration of Pi release under in vivo conditions; thereby filament barbed end capping is required for efficient ADF/cofilin binding and severing. Real time visualization of filament severing indicates that fragmentation scales with and occurs preferentially at boundaries between bare and ADF/cofilin decorated filament segments, thereby controlling the overall filament length depending on the ADF/cofilin activity and filament binding density.
PMCID: PMC3100394  PMID: 21530260
11.  Identification of Arabidopsis Cyclase-associated Protein 1 as the First Nucleotide Exchange Factor for Plant Actin 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(8):3002-3014.
The actin cytoskeleton powers organelle movements, orchestrates responses to abiotic stresses, and generates an amazing array of cell shapes. Underpinning these diverse functions of the actin cytoskeleton are several dozen accessory proteins that coordinate actin filament dynamics and construct higher-order assemblies. Many actin-binding proteins from the plant kingdom have been characterized and their function is often surprisingly distinct from mammalian and fungal counterparts. The adenylyl cyclase-associated protein (CAP) has recently been shown to be an important regulator of actin dynamics in vivo and in vitro. The disruption of actin organization in cap mutant plants indicates defects in actin dynamics or the regulated assembly and disassembly of actin subunits into filaments. Current models for actin dynamics maintain that actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin removes ADP–actin subunits from filament ends and that profilin recharges these monomers with ATP by enhancing nucleotide exchange and delivery of subunits onto filament barbed ends. Plant profilins, however, lack the essential ability to stimulate nucleotide exchange on actin, suggesting that there might be a missing link yet to be discovered from plants. Here, we show that Arabidopsis thaliana CAP1 (AtCAP1) is an abundant cytoplasmic protein; it is present at a 1:3 M ratio with total actin in suspension cells. AtCAP1 has equivalent affinities for ADP– and ATP–monomeric actin (Kd ∼ 1.3 μM). Binding of AtCAP1 to ATP–actin monomers inhibits polymerization, consistent with AtCAP1 being an actin sequestering protein. However, we demonstrate that AtCAP1 is the first plant protein to increase the rate of nucleotide exchange on actin. Even in the presence of ADF/cofilin, AtCAP1 can recharge actin monomers and presumably provide a polymerizable pool of subunits to profilin for addition onto filament ends. In turnover assays, plant profilin, ADF, and CAP act cooperatively to promote flux of subunits through actin filament barbed ends. Collectively, these results and our understanding of other actin-binding proteins implicate CAP1 as a central player in regulating the pool of unpolymerized ATP–actin.
PMCID: PMC1949352  PMID: 17538023
12.  The Two Caenorhabditis Elegans Actin-Depolymerizing Factor/Cofilin Proteins Differently Enhance Actin Filament Severing and Depolymerization† 
Biochemistry  2005;44(43):14238-14247.
Actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin enhances the turnover of actin filaments by two separable activities: filament severing and pointed-end depolymerization. Multicellular organisms express multiple ADF/cofilin isoforms in a tissue-specific manner, and the vertebrate proteins are grouped into ADFs and cofilins on the basis of their biochemical activity. A recent comparative study has shown that ADF has greater severing and depolymerizing activities than cofilin [Chen, H., Bernstein, B. W., Sneider, J. M., Boyle, J. A., Minamide, L. S., and Bamburg, J. R. (2004) Biochemistry 43, 7127-7142]. Here, we show that the two Caenorhabditis elegans ADF/cofilin isoforms exhibit different activities for severing and depolymerizing actin filaments. The ADF-like non-muscle isoform UNC-60A had greater activities to cause net depolymerization and inhibit polymerization than the cofilin-like muscle isoform UNC-60B. Surprisingly, UNC-60B exhibited much stronger severing activity than UNC-60A, which was the opposite of what was observed for vertebrate counterparts. Moreover, UNC-60B induced much faster pointed-end depolymerization of rabbit muscle actin than UNC-60A, while UNC-60A caused slightly faster depolymerization of C. elegans actin than UNC-60B. These results suggest that cofilin-like UNC-60B is kinetically more efficient in enhancing actin turnover than ADF-like UNC-60A, while ADF-like UNC-60A is suitable for maintaining higher concentrations of monomeric actin. These functional differences might be specifically adapted for different actin dynamics in muscle and non-muscle cells.
PMCID: PMC1910702  PMID: 16245940
13.  Rapid actin monomer–insensitive depolymerization of Listeria actin comet tails by cofilin, coronin, and Aip1 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;175(2):315-324.
Actin filaments in cells depolymerize rapidly despite the presence of high concentrations of polymerizable G actin. Cofilin is recognized as a key regulator that promotes actin depolymerization. In this study, we show that although pure cofilin can disassemble Listeria monocytogenes actin comet tails, it cannot efficiently disassemble comet tails in the presence of polymerizable actin. Thymus extracts also rapidly disassemble comet tails, and this reaction is more efficient than pure cofilin when normalized to cofilin concentration. By biochemical fractionation, we identify Aip1 and coronin as two proteins present in thymus extract that facilitate the cofilin-mediated disassembly of Listeria comet tails. Together, coronin and Aip1 lower the amount of cofilin required to disassemble the comet tail and permit even low concentrations of cofilin to depolymerize actin in the presence of polymerizable G actin. The cooperative activities of cofilin, coronin, and Aip1 should provide a biochemical basis for understanding how actin filaments can grow in some places in the cell while shrinking in others.
PMCID: PMC2064572  PMID: 17060499
14.  Arp2/3 Complex and Actin Depolymerizing Factor/Cofilin in Dendritic Organization and Treadmilling of Actin Filament Array in Lamellipodia  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;145(5):1009-1026.
The leading edge (∼1 μm) of lamellipodia in Xenopus laevis keratocytes and fibroblasts was shown to have an extensively branched organization of actin filaments, which we term the dendritic brush. Pointed ends of individual filaments were located at Y-junctions, where the Arp2/3 complex was also localized, suggesting a role of the Arp2/3 complex in branch formation. Differential depolymerization experiments suggested that the Arp2/3 complex also provided protection of pointed ends from depolymerization. Actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin was excluded from the distal 0.4 μm of the lamellipodial network of keratocytes and in fibroblasts it was located within the depolymerization-resistant zone. These results suggest that ADF/cofilin, per se, is not sufficient for actin brush depolymerization and a regulatory step is required. Our evidence supports a dendritic nucleation model (Mullins, R.D., J.A. Heuser, and T.D. Pollard. 1998. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 95:6181–6186) for lamellipodial protrusion, which involves treadmilling of a branched actin array instead of treadmilling of individual filaments. In this model, Arp2/3 complex and ADF/cofilin have antagonistic activities. Arp2/3 complex is responsible for integration of nascent actin filaments into the actin network at the cell front and stabilizing pointed ends from depolymerization, while ADF/cofilin promotes filament disassembly at the rear of the brush, presumably by pointed end depolymerization after dissociation of the Arp2/3 complex.
PMCID: PMC2133125  PMID: 10352018
actin; Arp2/3 complex; actin depolymerizing factor/cofilin; locomotion; treadmilling
15.  The ADF/cofilin family: actin-remodeling proteins 
Genome Biology  2002;3(5):reviews3007.1-reviews3007.12.
The ADF/cofilins are a family of actin-binding proteins that remodel the actin cytoskeleton, for example during cytokinesis, by severing actin filaments and also increasing the rate at which monomers leave the filament's pointed end. Plants and animals have multiple ADF/cofilin genes and other eukaryotes have a single ADF/cofilin gene.
The ADF/cofilins are a family of actin-binding proteins expressed in all eukaryotic cells so far examined. Members of this family remodel the actin cytoskeleton, for example during cytokinesis, when the actin-rich contractile ring shrinks as it contracts through the interaction of ADF/cofilins with both monomeric and filamentous actin. The depolymerizing activity is twofold: ADF/cofilins sever actin filaments and also increase the rate at which monomers leave the filament's pointed end. The three-dimensional structure of ADF/cofilins is similar to a fold in members of the gelsolin family of actin-binding proteins in which this fold is typically repeated three or six times; although both families bind polyphosphoinositide lipids and actin in a pH-dependent manner, they share no obvious sequence similarity. Plants and animals have multiple ADF/cofilin genes, belonging in vertebrates to two types, ADF and cofilins. Other eukaryotes (such as yeast, Acanthamoeba and slime moulds) have a single ADF/cofilin gene. Phylogenetic analysis of the ADF/cofilins reveals that, with few exceptions, their relationships reflect conventional views of the relationships between the major groups of organisms.
PMCID: PMC139363  PMID: 12049672
16.  Actin-ADF/cofilin rod formation in Caenorhabditis elegans muscle requires a putative F-actin binding site of ADF/cofilin at the C-terminus 
Under a number of stress or pathological conditions, actin and actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin form rod-like structures that contain abnormal bundles of actin filaments that are heavily decorated with ADF/cofilin. However, the mechanism of actin rod formation and the physiological role of actin rods are not clearly understood. Here, we report that overexpression of green fluorescent protein-fused UNC-60B, a muscle-specific ADF/cofilin isoform, in Caenorhabditis elegans body wall muscle induces formation of rod-like structures. The rods contained GFP-UNC-60B, actin-interacting protein 1 (AIP1), and actin, but not other major actin-associated proteins, thus resembling actin-ADF/cofilin rods found in other organisms. However, depletion or overexpression of AIP1 did not affect formation of the actin-GFP-UNC-60B rods, suggesting that AIP1 does not play a significant role in the rod assembly. Truncation of the C-terminal tail, a putative F-actin binding site, of UNC-60B abolished induction of the rod formation, strongly suggesting that stable association of UNC-60B with F-actin, which is mediated by its C-terminus, is required for inducing actin-ADF/cofilin rods. This study suggests that C. elegans can be a new model to study functions of actin-ADF/cofilin rods.
PMCID: PMC2733252  PMID: 19459188
Actin filaments; nematode; myofibrils; stress; overexpression
17.  ATP-dependent regulation of actin monomer-filament equilibrium by cyclase-associated protein and ADF/cofilin 
The Biochemical journal  2013;453(2):249-259.
Cyclase-associated protein (CAP) is a conserved regulator of actin filament dynamics. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, CAS-1 is an isoform of CAP that is expressed in striated muscle and regulates sarcomeric actin assembly. Here, we report that CAS-2, a second CAP isoform in C. elegans, attenuates the actin-monomer-sequestering effect of actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin to increase steady-state levels of actin filaments in an ATP-dependent manner. CAS-2 binds to actin monomers without a strong preference to either ATP- or ADP-actin. CAS-2 strongly enhances exchange of actin-bound nucleotides even in the presence of UNC-60A, which is a C. elegans ADF/cofilin that inhibits nucleotide exchange. UNC-60A induces depolymerization of actin filaments and sequesters actin monomers, whereas CAS-2 reverses the monomer-sequestering effect of UNC-60A in the presence of ATP but not in the presence of only ADP or absence of ATP or ADP. A 1:100 molar ratio of CAS-2 to UNC-60A is sufficient to increase actin filaments. CAS-2 has two independent actin-binding sites in the amino- and carboxyl-terminal halves, and the carboxyl-terminal half is necessary and sufficient for the observed activities of the full-length CAS-2. These results suggest that CAS-2 (CAP) and UNC-60A (ADF/cofilin) are important in ATP-dependent regulation of actin monomer-filament equilibrium.
PMCID: PMC4086254  PMID: 23672398
Actin dynamics; polymerization; depolymerization; nucleotide exchange; ADF/cofilin; cyclase-associated protein
18.  Regulation of the Cortical Actin Cytoskeleton in Budding Yeast by Twinfilin, a Ubiquitous Actin Monomer-sequestering Protein  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1998;142(3):723-733.
Here we describe the identification of a novel 37-kD actin monomer binding protein in budding yeast. This protein, which we named twinfilin, is composed of two cofilin-like regions. In our sequence database searches we also identified human, mouse, and Caenorhabditis elegans homologues of yeast twinfilin, suggesting that twinfilins form an evolutionarily conserved family of actin-binding proteins. Purified recombinant twinfilin prevents actin filament assembly by forming a 1:1 complex with actin monomers, and inhibits the nucleotide exchange reaction of actin monomers. Despite the sequence homology with the actin filament depolymerizing cofilin/actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF) proteins, our data suggests that twinfilin does not induce actin filament depolymerization. In yeast cells, a green fluorescent protein (GFP)–twinfilin fusion protein localizes primarily to cytoplasm, but also to cortical actin patches. Overexpression of the twinfilin gene (TWF1) results in depolarization of the cortical actin patches. A twf1 null mutation appears to result in increased assembly of cortical actin structures and is synthetically lethal with the yeast cofilin mutant cof1-22, shown previously to cause pronounced reduction in turnover of cortical actin filaments. Taken together, these results demonstrate that twinfilin is a novel, highly conserved actin monomer-sequestering protein involved in regulation of the cortical actin cytoskeleton.
PMCID: PMC2148182  PMID: 9700161
actin; cytoskeleton; budding yeast; twinfilin; cofilin
19.  Isolation and characterization of a regulated form of actin depolymerizing factor 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1993;122(3):623-633.
Actin depolymerizing factor (ADF) is an 18.5-kD protein with pH- dependent reciprocal F-actin binding and severing/depolymerizing activities. We previously showed developing muscle down-regulates ADF (J. R. Bamburg and D. Bray. 1987. J. Cell Biol. 105: 2817-2825). To further study this process, we examined ADF expression in chick myocytes cultured in vitro. Surprisingly, ADF immunoreactivity increases during the first 7-10 d in culture. This increase is due to the presence of a new ADF species with higher relative molecular weight which reacts identically to brain ADF with antisera raised against either brain ADF or recombinant ADF. We have purified both ADF isoforms from myocytes and have shown by peptide mapping and partial sequence analysis that the new isoform is structurally related to ADF. Immunoprecipitation of both isoforms from extracts of cells prelabeled with [32P]orthophosphate showed that the new isoform is radiolabeled, predominantly on a serine residue, and hence is called pADF. pADF can be converted into a form which comigrates with ADF on 1-D and 2-D gels by treatment with alkaline phosphatase. pADF has been quantified in a number of cells and tissues where it is present from approximately 18% to 150% of the amount of unphosphorylated ADF. pADF, unlike ADF, does not bind to G-actin, or affect the rate or extent of actin assembly. Four ubiquitous protein kinases failed to phosphorylate ADF in vitro suggesting that ADF phosphorylation in vivo is catalyzed by a more specific kinase. We conclude that the ability to regulate ADF activity is important to muscle development since myocytes have both pre- and posttranslational mechanisms for regulating ADF activity. The latter mechanism is apparently a general one for cell regulation of ADF activity.
PMCID: PMC2119666  PMID: 7687605
20.  Essential role of ADF/cofilin for assembly of contractile actin networks in the C. elegans somatic gonad 
Journal of cell science  2008;121(Pt 16):2662-2670.
The somatic gonad of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has the myoepithelial sheath that surrounds oocytes and provides contractile forces during ovulation. Contractile apparatuses of the myoepithelial sheath cells are non-striated and similar to those of smooth muscle. We report identification of a specific isoform of actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin as an essential factor for assembly of contractile actin networks in the gonadal myoepithelial sheath. Two ADF/cofilin isoforms, UNC-60A and UNC-60B, are expressed from the unc-60 gene by alternative splicing. RNA interference of UNC-60A caused disorganization of the actin networks in the myoepithelial sheath. UNC-60B, which is known to function in the body wall muscle, was not necessary or sufficient for actin organization in the myoepithelial sheath. However, mutant forms of UNC-60B with reduced actin filament severing activity rescued the UNC-60A-depletion phenotype. UNC-60A has much weaker filament severing activity than UNC-60B, suggesting that an ADF/cofilin with weak severing activity is optimal for assembly of actin networks in the myoepithelial sheath. In contrast, strong actin filament severing activity of UNC-60B was required for assembly of striated myofibrils in the body wall muscle. Our results suggest that an optimal level of actin filament severing activity of ADF/cofilin is required for assembly of actin networks in the somatic gonad.
PMCID: PMC2572110  PMID: 18653537
Actin dynamics; severing; contraction; ovulation; myoepithelial cells
21.  Kinetic analysis of F-actin depolymerization in the presence of platelet gelsolin and gelsolin-actin complexes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1985;101(4):1236-1244.
Platelet gelsolin (G), a 90,000-mol-wt protein, binds tightly to actin (A) and calcium at low ionic strength to form a 1:2:2 complex, GA2Ca2 (Bryan, J., and M. Kurth, 1984, J. Biol. Chem. 259:7480-7487). Chromatography of actin and gelsolin mixtures in EGTA-containing solutions isolates a stable binary complex, GA1Ca1 (Kurth, M., and J. Bryan, 1984, J. Biol. Chem. 259:7473-7479). The effects of platelet gelsolin and the binary gelsolin-actin complex on the depolymerization kinetics of rabbit skeletal muscle actin were studied by diluting pyrenyl F-actin into gelsolin or complex-containing buffers; a decrease in fluorescence represents disassembly of filaments. Dilution of F- actin to below the critical concentration required for filament assembly gave a biphasic depolymerization curve with both fast and slow components. Dilution into buffers containing gelsolin, as GCa2, increased the rate of depolymerization and gave a first order decay. The rate of decrease in fluorescence was found to be gelsolin concentration dependent. Electron microscopy of samples taken shortly after dilution into GCa2 showed a marked reduction in filament length consistent with filament severing and an increase in the number of ends. Conversely, occupancy of the EGTA-stable actin-binding site by an actin monomer eliminated the severing activity. Dilution of F-actin into the gelsolin-actin complex, either as GA1Ca1 or GA1Ca2, resulted in a decrease in the rate of depolymerization that was consistent with filament end capping. This result indicates that the EGTA-stable binding site is required and must be unoccupied for filament severing to occur. The effectiveness of gelsolin, GCa2, in causing filament depolymerization was dependent upon the ionic conditions: in KCI, actin filaments appeared to be more stable and less susceptible to gelsolin, whereas in Mg2+, actin filaments were more easily fragmented. Finally, a comparison of the number of kinetically active ends generated when filaments were diluted into gelsolin versus the number formed when gelsolin can function as a nucleation site suggests that gelsolin may sever more than once. The data are consistent with a mechanism where gelsolin, with both actin-binding sites unoccupied, can sever but not cap F-actin. Occupancy of the EGTA-stable binding site yields a gelsolin-actin complex that can no longer sever filaments, but can cap filament ends.
PMCID: PMC2113914  PMID: 2995403
22.  Coactosin-Like 1 Antagonizes Cofilin to Promote Lamellipodial Protrusion at the Immune Synapse 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85090.
Actin depolymerizing factor-homology (ADF-H) family proteins regulate actin filament dynamics at multiple cellular locations. Herein, we have investigated the function of the ADF-H family member coactosin-like 1 (COTL1) in the regulation of actin dynamics at the T cell immune synapse (IS). We initially identified COTL1 in a genetic screen to identify novel regulators of T cell activation, and subsequently found that it associates with F-actin and localizes at the IS in response to TCR+CD28 stimulation. Live cell microscopy showed that depletion of COTL1 protein impaired T cell spreading in response to TCR ligation and abrogated lamellipodial protrusion at the T cell – B cell contact site, producing only a band of F-actin. Significantly, re-expression of wild type COTL1, but not a mutant deficient in F-actin binding could rescue these defects. In addition, COTL1 depletion reduced T cell migration. In vitro studies showed that COTL1 and cofilin compete with each other for binding to F-actin, and COTL1 protects F-actin from cofilin-mediated depolymerization. While depletion of cofilin enhanced F-actin assembly and lamellipodial protrusion at the IS, concurrent depletion of both COTL1 and cofilin restored lamellipodia formation. Taken together, our results suggest that COTL1 regulates lamellipodia dynamics in part by protecting F-actin from cofilin-mediated disassembly.
PMCID: PMC3890291  PMID: 24454796
23.  The two actin-interacting protein 1 genes have overlapping and essential function for embryonic development in Caenorhabditis elegans 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(13):2258-2269.
AIP1 is a conserved enhancer of ADF/cofilin-dependent actin dynamics. Caenorhabditis elegans has two AIP1 genes. They have overlapping functions, and ablation of both AIP1 isoforms causes embryonic lethality with strong defects in the assembly of muscle sarcomeres.
Disassembly of actin filaments by actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin and actin-interacting protein 1 (AIP1) is a conserved mechanism to promote reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. We previously reported that unc-78, an AIP1 gene in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, is required for organized assembly of sarcomeric actin filaments in the body wall muscle. unc-78 functions in larval and adult muscle, and an unc-78–null mutant is homozygous viable and shows only weak phenotypes in embryos. Here we report that a second AIP1 gene, aipl-1 (AIP1-like gene-1), has overlapping function with unc-78, and that depletion of the two AIP1 isoforms causes embryonic lethality. A single aipl-1–null mutation did not cause a detectable phenotype. However, depletion of both unc-78 and aipl-1 arrested development at late embryonic stages due to severe disorganization of sarcomeric actin filaments in body wall muscle. In vitro, both AIPL-1 and UNC-78 preferentially cooperated with UNC-60B, a muscle-specific ADF/cofilin isoform, in actin filament disassembly but not with UNC-60A, a nonmuscle ADF/cofilin. AIPL-1 is expressed in embryonic muscle, and forced expression of AIPL-1 in adult muscle compensated for the function of UNC-78. Thus our results suggest that enhancement of actin filament disassembly by ADF/cofilin and AIP1 proteins is critical for embryogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3128528  PMID: 21551072
24.  Actin-based movement of Listeria monocytogenes: actin assembly results from the local maintenance of uncapped filament barbed ends at the bacterium surface 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1995;130(2):331-343.
The thermodynamic basis for actin-based motility of Listeria monocytogenes has been investigated using cytoplasmic extracts of Xenopus eggs, initially developed by Theriot et al. (Theriot, J. A., J. Rosenblatt, D. A. Portnoy, P. J. Goldschmidt-Clermont, and T. J. Mitchison. 1994. Cell. 76:505-517) as an in vitro cell-free system. A large proportion (75%) of actin was found unpolymerized in the extracts. The amount of unassembled actin (12 microM) is accounted for by the sequestering functions of T beta 4Xen (20 microM) and profilin (5 microM), the barbed ends being capped. Movement of Listeria was not abolished by depletion of over 99% of the endogenous profilin. The proline-rich sequences of ActA are unlikely to be the target of profilin. All data support the view that actin assembly at the rear of Listeria results from a local shift in steady state due to a factor, keeping filaments uncapped, bound to the surface of the bacterium, while barbed ends are capped in the bulk cytoplasm. Movement is controlled by the energetic difference (i.e., the difference in critical concentration) between the two ends of the filaments, hence a constant ATP supply and the presence of barbed end capped F-actin in the medium are required to buffer free G-actin at a high concentration. The role of membrane components is demonstrated by the facts that: (a) Listeria movement can be reconstituted in the resuspended pellets of high speed-centrifuged extracts that are enriched in membranes; (b) Actin-based motility of endogenous vesicles, exhibiting the same rocketing movement as Listeria, can be observed in the extracts.
PMCID: PMC2199942  PMID: 7615635
25.  Individual Actin Filaments in a Microfluidic Flow Reveal the Mechanism of ATP Hydrolysis and Give Insight Into the Properties of Profilin 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(9):e1001161.
A novel microfluidic approach allows the analysis of the dynamics of individual actin filaments, revealing both their local ADP/ADP-Pi-actin composition and that Pi release is a random mechanism.
The hydrolysis of ATP associated with actin and profilin-actin polymerization is pivotal in cell motility. It is at the origin of treadmilling of actin filaments and controls their dynamics and mechanical properties, as well as their interactions with regulatory proteins. The slow release of inorganic phosphate (Pi) that follows rapid cleavage of ATP gamma phosphate is linked to an increase in the rate of filament disassembly. The mechanism of Pi release in actin filaments has remained elusive for over 20 years. Here, we developed a microfluidic setup to accurately monitor the depolymerization of individual filaments and determine their local ADP-Pi content. We demonstrate that Pi release in the filament is not a vectorial but a random process with a half-time of 102 seconds, irrespective of whether the filament is assembled from actin or profilin-actin. Pi release from the depolymerizing barbed end is faster (half-time of 0.39 seconds) and further accelerated by profilin. Profilin accelerates the depolymerization of both ADP- and ADP-Pi-F-actin. Altogether, our data show that during elongation from profilin-actin, the dissociation of profilin from the growing barbed end is not coupled to Pi release or to ATP cleavage on the terminal subunit. These results emphasize the potential of microfluidics in elucidating actin regulation at the scale of individual filaments.
Author Summary
Actin proteins assemble into microfilaments that control cell shape and movement by polymerizing or depolymerizing. These actin monomers can bind ATP or ADP molecules. The incorporation of an ATP-actin monomer into a growing filament results in rapid cleavage of ATP into ADP and inorganic phosphate (Pi), followed by a slower release of Pi. As a consequence, actin filaments are composed mainly of ADP- and ADP-Pi-actin subunits, which have different depolymerization kinetics and mechanical properties, and can be targeted specifically by regulatory proteins that affect filament function. Hence, the understanding of many cellular processes requires a knowledge of the ADP/ADP-Pi composition of actin filaments at a molecular scale. This has so far remained elusive because traditional studies rely on measuring an average over many filaments in solution. To address this issue, we developed a microfluidics setup to monitor individual filaments with light microscopy while rapidly changing their chemical environment. We find that depolymerization accelerates progressively and corresponds to an exponential ADP-Pi-actin profile in the filament, meaning that each subunit releases its Pi with the same rate. Our method also provides novel insight into the function of profilin, a protein important for regulation of actin dynamics in cells, thus demonstrating the method's potential in the functional analysis of actin regulators.
PMCID: PMC3181223  PMID: 21980262

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