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1.  Tropomodulin: a cytoskeletal protein that binds to the end of erythrocyte tropomyosin and inhibits tropomyosin binding to actin 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1990;111(2):471-481.
Human erythrocytes contain a Mr 43,000 tropomyosin-binding protein that is unrelated to actin and that has been proposed to play a role in modulating the association of tropomyosin with spectrin-actin complexes based on its stoichiometry in the membrane skeleton of one Mr 43,000 monomer per short actin filament (Fowler, V. M. 1987. J. Biol. Chem. 262:12792-12800). Here, we describe an improved procedure to purify milligram quantities to 98% homogeneity and we show that this protein inhibits tropomyosin binding to actin by a novel mechanism. We have named this protein tropomodulin. Unlike other proteins that inhibit tropomyosin-actin interactions, tropomodulin itself does not bind to F- actin. EM of rotary-shadowed tropomodulin-tropomyosin complexes reveal that tropomodulin (14.5 +/- 2.4 nm [SD] in diameter) binds to one of the ends of the rod-like tropomyosin molecules (33 nm long). In agreement with this observation, Dixon plots of inhibition curves demonstrate that tropomodulin is a non-competitive inhibitor of tropomyosin binding to F-actin (Ki = 0.7 microM). Hill plots of the binding of the tropomodulin-tropomyosin complex to actin indicate that binding does not exhibit any positive cooperativity (n = 0.9), in contrast to tropomyosin (n = 1.9), and that the apparent affinity of the complex for actin is reduced 20-fold with respect to that of tropomyosin. These results suggest that binding of tropomodulin to tropomyosin may block the ability of tropomyosin to self-associate in a head-to-tail fashion along the actin filament, thereby weakening its binding to actin. Antibodies to tropomodulin cross-react strongly with striated muscle troponin I (but not with troponin T) as well as with a nontroponin Mr 43,000 polypeptide in muscle and in other nonerythroid cells and tissues, including brain, lens, neutrophils, and endothelial cells. Thus, erythrocyte tropomodulin may be one member of a family of tropomyosin-binding proteins that function to regulate tropomyosin- actin interactions in non-muscle cells and tissues.
PMCID: PMC2116216  PMID: 2380244
2.  Novel deletion of lysine 7 expands the clinical, histopathological and genetic spectrum of TPM2-related myopathies 
Brain  2013;136(2):508-521.
The β-tropomyosin gene encodes a component of the sarcomeric thin filament. Rod-shaped dimers of tropomyosin regulate actin-myosin interactions and β-tropomyosin mutations have been associated with nemaline myopathy, cap myopathy, Escobar syndrome and distal arthrogryposis types 1A and 2B. In this study, we expand the allelic spectrum of β-tropomyosin-related myopathies through the identification of a novel β-tropomyosin mutation in two clinical contexts not previously associated with β-tropomyosin. The first clinical phenotype is core-rod myopathy, with a β-tropomyosin mutation uncovered by whole exome sequencing in a family with autosomal dominant distal myopathy and muscle biopsy features of both minicores and nemaline rods. The second phenotype, observed in four unrelated families, is autosomal dominant trismus-pseudocamptodactyly syndrome (distal arthrogryposis type 7; previously associated exclusively with myosin heavy chain 8 mutations). In all four families, the mutation identified was a novel 3-bp in-frame deletion (c.20_22del) that results in deletion of a conserved lysine at the seventh amino acid position (p.K7del). This is the first mutation identified in the extreme N-terminus of β-tropomyosin. To understand the potential pathogenic mechanism(s) underlying this mutation, we performed both computational analysis and in vivo modelling. Our theoretical model predicts that the mutation disrupts the N-terminus of the α-helices of dimeric β-tropomyosin, a change predicted to alter protein–protein binding between β-tropomyosin and other molecules and to disturb head-to-tail polymerization of β-tropomyosin dimers. To create an in vivo model, we expressed wild-type or p.K7del β-tropomyosin in the developing zebrafish. p.K7del β-tropomyosin fails to localize properly within the thin filament compartment and its expression alters sarcomere length, suggesting that the mutation interferes with head-to-tail β-tropomyosin polymerization and with overall sarcomeric structure. We describe a novel β-tropomyosin mutation, two clinical-histopathological phenotypes not previously associated with β-tropomyosin and pathogenic data from the first animal model of β-tropomyosin-related myopathies.
PMCID: PMC3572924  PMID: 23413262
nemaline; myopathies; muscle and nerve pathology; mutation; neuromuscular disorders
3.  Effect of actin C-terminal modification on tropomyosin isoforms binding and thin filament regulation 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2009;1794(2):237-243.
Tropomyosins, a family of actin-binding regulatory proteins, are present in muscle and non-muscle cells. Multiple tropomyosin (TM) isoforms differ in actin affinity and regulatory properties, but little is known about the molecular bases of these differences. The C-terminus of actin stabilizes contacts between actin subunits in the filament and interacts with myosin and regulatory proteins. The goal of this work was to reveal how structural changes in actin and differences between TM isoforms affect binding between these proteins and affect thin filament regulation. Actin proteolytically truncated by three C-terminal amino acids exhibited 1.2–1.5 fold reduced affinity for non-muscle and smooth muscle tropomyosin isoforms. The truncation increased the cooperativity of myosin S1-induced tropomyosin binding for short tropomyosins (TM5a and TM1b9a), but it was neutral for long isoforms (smTM and TM2). Actin modification affected regulation of actomyosin ATPase activity in the presence of all tropomyosins by shifting the filament into a more active state. We conclude that the integrity of the actin C-terminus is important for actin–tropomyosin interactions, however the increased affinity of tropomyosin binding in the S1-induced state of the filament appears not to be involved in the tropomyosin isoform-dependent mechanism of the actomyosin ATPase activation.
PMCID: PMC2628472  PMID: 19041430
Actin; Truncated actin; Tropomyosin; Smooth muscle; Non-muscle; Regulation
4.  Tropomyosin isoforms in chicken embryo fibroblasts: purification, characterization, and changes in Rous sarcoma virus-transformed cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1985;100(3):692-703.
Seven polypeptides (a, b, c, 1, 2, 3a, and 3b) have been previously identified as tropomyosin isoforms in chicken embryo fibroblasts (CEF) (Lin, J. J.-C., Matsumura, F., and Yamashiro-Matsumura, S., 1984, J. Cell. Biol., 98:116-127). Spots a and c had identical mobility on two- dimensional gels with the slow-migrating and fast-migrating components, respectively, of chicken gizzard tropomyosin. However, the remaining isoforms of CEF tropomyosin were distinct from chicken skeletal and cardiac tropomyosins on two-dimensional gels. The mixture of CEF tropomyosin has been isolated by the combination of Triton/glycerol extraction of monolayer cells, heat treatment, and ammonium sulfate fractionation. The yield of tropomyosin was estimated to be 1.4% of total CEF proteins. The identical set of tropomyosin isoforms could be found in the antitropomyosin immunoprecipitates after the cell-free translation products of total poly(A)+ RNAs isolated from CEF cells. This suggested that at least seven mRNAs coding for these tropomyosin isoforms existed in the cell. Purified tropomyosins (particularly 1, 2, and 3) showed different actin-binding abilities in the presence of 100 mM KCl and no divalent cation. Under this condition, the binding of tropomyosin 3 (3a + 3b) to actin filaments was significantly weaker than that of tropomyosin 1 or 2. CEF tropomyosin 1, and probably 3, could be cross-linked to form homodimers by treatment with 5,5'- dithiobis-(2-nitrobenzoate), whereas tropomyosin a and c formed a heterodimer. These dimer species may reflect the in vivo assembly of tropomyosin isoforms, since dimer formation occurred not only with purified tropomyosin but also with microfilament-associated tropomyosin. The expression of these tropomyosin isoforms in Rous sarcoma virus-transformed CEF cells has also been investigated. In agreement with the previous report by Hendricks and Weintraub (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 78:5633-5637), we found that major tropomyosin 1 was greatly reduced in transformed cells. We have also found that the relative amounts of tropomyosin 3a and 3b were increased in both the total cell lysate and the microfilament fraction of transformed cells. Because of the different actin-binding properties observed for CEF tropomyosins, changes in the expression of these isoforms may, in part, be responsible for the reduction of actin cables and the alteration of cell shape found in transformed cells.
PMCID: PMC2113520  PMID: 2982883
5.  Molecular Mechanical Differences between Isoforms of Contractile Actin in the Presence of Isoforms of Smooth Muscle Tropomyosin 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(10):e1003273.
The proteins involved in smooth muscle's molecular contractile mechanism – the anti-parallel motion of actin and myosin filaments driven by myosin heads interacting with actin – are found as different isoforms. While their expression levels are altered in disease states, their relevance to the mechanical interaction of myosin with actin is not sufficiently understood. Here, we analyzed in vitro actin filament propulsion by smooth muscle myosin for -actin (A), -actin-tropomyosin- (A-Tm), -actin-tropomyosin- (A-Tm), -actin (A), -actin-tropomyosin- (A-Tm), and -actin-tropomoysin- (A-Tm). Actin sliding analysis with our specifically developed video analysis software followed by statistical assessment (Bootstrapped Principal Component Analysis) indicated that the in vitro motility of A, A, and A-Tm is not distinguishable. Compared to these three ‘baseline conditions’, statistically significant differences () were: A-Tm – actin sliding velocity increased 1.12-fold, A-Tm – motile fraction decreased to 0.96-fold, stop time elevated 1.6-fold, A-Tm – run time elevated 1.7-fold. We constructed a mathematical model, simulated actin sliding data, and adjusted the kinetic parameters so as to mimic the experimentally observed differences: A-Tm – myosin binding to actin, the main, and the secondary myosin power stroke are accelerated, A-Tm – mechanical coupling between myosins is stronger, A-Tm – the secondary power stroke is decelerated and mechanical coupling between myosins is weaker. In summary, our results explain the different regulatory effects that specific combinations of actin and smooth muscle tropomyosin have on smooth muscle actin-myosin interaction kinetics.
Author Summary
Dependent on the required physiological function, smooth muscle executes relatively fast contraction-relaxation cycles or maintains long-term contraction. The proteins driving contraction – amongst them actin, tropomyosin, and the contraction-driving myosin motor – can show small changes in the way they are constructed, they can be expressed as different “isoforms”. The isoforms are supposedly tailored to support the specific contraction patterns, but for tropomyosin and actin it is unclear exactly how the isoforms' differences affect the interaction of actin and myosin that generates the muscle contraction. We measured actin movement outside the cellular environment, focusing on the effects of different isoform combinations of only actin, myosin, and tropomyosin. We found that the actin isoforms cause differences in the mechanical interaction only when tropomyosin is present, not without it. Also, all different actin-tropomyosin combinations affected the mechanical interactions in a different way. In our experiments we could not directly observe the mechanical interactions of actin, tropomyosin, and myosin, so we reconstructed them in a mathematical model. With this model, we could determine in detail how the different actin-tropomyosin combinations caused the differences that we observed in our experiments.
PMCID: PMC3812040  PMID: 24204225
6.  Molecular basis of tropomyosin binding to tropomodulin, an actin capping protein 
Journal of molecular biology  2007;372(3):608-618.
The tropomodulins are a family of proteins that cap the pointed, slow-growing end of actin filaments and require tropomyosin for optimal function. Earlier studies identified two regions in Tmod1 that bind the N terminus of tropomyosin, though the ability of different isoforms to bind the two sites is controversial. We used model peptides to determine the affinity and define the specificity of the highly-conserved N termini of three short, non-muscle tropomyosins (α, γ, δ-TM) for the two Tmod1 binding sites using circular dichroism spectroscopy, native gel electrophoresis, and chemical crosslinking. All tropomyosin peptides have high affinity to the second Tmod1 binding site (within residues 109–144; α-TM, 2.5 nM; γ-TM, δ-TM, 40–90 nM), but differ >100- fold for the first site (residues 1–38; α-TM, 90 nM; undetectable at 10 µM, γ-TM, δ-TM). Residue 14 (R in α; Q in γ, δ), and to a lesser extent, residue 4 (S in α; T in γ, δ) are primarily responsible for the differences. The functional consequence of the sequence differences is reflected in the more effective inhibition of actin filament elongation by full-length α-TMs than γ-TM in the presence of Tmod1. The binding sites of the two Tmod1 peptides on a model tropomyosin peptide differ, as defined by comparing 15N¹H HSQC spectra of a 15N-labeled model tropomyosin peptide in the absence and presence of Tmod1 peptide. The NMR and circular dichroism studies show that there is an increase in α-helix upon Tmod1-tropomyosin complex formation, indicating that intrinsically disordered regions of the two proteins become ordered when they bind. A proposed model for the binding of Tmod to actin and tropomyosin at the pointed end of the filament shows how the tropomodulin-tropomyosin accentuates the asymmetry of the pointed end and suggests how subtle differences among tropomyosin isoforms may modulate actin filament dynamics.
PMCID: PMC2134803  PMID: 17706248
tropomyosin; tropomodulin; actin filament; circular dichroism; nuclear magnetic resonance
7.  Characterization of 83-kilodalton nonmuscle caldesmon from cultured rat cells: stimulation of actin binding of nonmuscle tropomyosin and periodic localization along microfilaments like tropomyosin 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1988;106(6):1973-1983.
Nonmuscle caldesmon purified from cultured rat cells shows a molecular weight of 83,000 on SDS gels, Stokes radius of 60.5 A, and sedimentation coefficient (S20,w) of 3.5 in the presence of reducing agents. These values give a native molecular weight of 87,000 and a frictional ratio of 2.04, suggesting that the molecule is a monomeric, asymmetric protein. In the absence of reducing agents, the protein is self-associated, through disulfide bonds, into oligomers with a molecular weight of 230,000 on SDS gels. These S-S oligomers appear to be responsible for the actin-bundling activity of nonmuscle caldesmon in the absence of reducing agents. Actin binding is saturated at a molar ratio of one 83-kD protein to six actins with an apparent binding constant of 5 X 10(6) M-1. Because of 83-kD nonmuscle caldesmon and tropomyosin are colocalized in stress fibers of cultured cells, we have examined effects of 83-kD protein on the actin binding of cultured cell tropomyosin. Of five isoforms of cultured rat cell tropomyosin, tropomyosin isoforms with high molecular weight values (40,000 and 36,500) show higher affinity to actin than do tropomyosin isoforms with low molecular weight values (32,400 and 32,000) (Matsumura, F., and S. Yamashiro-Matsumura. 1986. J. Biol. Chem. 260:13851-13859). At physiological concentration of KCl (100 mM), 83-kD nonmuscle caldesmon stimulates binding of low molecular weight tropomyosins to actin and increases the apparent binding constant (Ka from 4.4 X 10(5) to 1.5 X 10(6) M-1. In contrast, 83-kD protein has slight stimulation of actin binding of high molecular weight tropomyosins because high molecular weight tropomyosins bind to actin strongly in this condition. As the binding of 83-kD protein to actin is regulated by calcium/calmodulin, 83-kD protein regulates the binding of low molecular weight tropomyosins to actin in a calcium/calmodulin-dependent way. Using monoclonal antibodies to visualize nonmuscle caldesmon along microfilaments or actin filaments reconstituted with purified 83-kD protein, we demonstrate that 83-kD nonmuscle caldesmon is localized periodically along microfilaments or actin filaments with similar periodicity (36 +/- 4 nm) as tropomyosin. These results suggest that 83- kD protein plays an important role in the organization of microfilaments, as well as the control of the motility, through the regulation of the binding of tropomyosin to actin.
PMCID: PMC2115152  PMID: 3384851
8.  Tropomodulin is associated with the free (pointed) ends of the thin filaments in rat skeletal muscle 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1993;120(2):411-420.
The length and spatial organization of thin filaments in skeletal muscle sarcomeres are precisely maintained and are essential for efficient muscle contraction. While the major structural components of skeletal muscle sarcomeres have been well characterized, the mechanisms that regulate thin filament length and spatial organization are not well understood. Tropomodulin is a new, 40.6-kD tropomyosin-binding protein from the human erythrocyte membrane skeleton that binds to one end of erythrocyte tropomyosin and blocks head-to-tail association of tropomyosin molecules along actin filaments. Here we show that rat psoas skeletal muscle contains tropomodulin based on immunoreactivity, identical apparent mobility on SDS gels, and ability to bind muscle tropomyosin. Results from immunofluorescence labeling of isolated myofibrils at resting and stretched lengths using anti-erythrocyte tropomodulin antibodies indicate that tropomodulin is localized at or near the free (pointed) ends of the thin filaments; this localization is not dependent on the presence of myosin thick filaments. Immunoblotting of supernatants and pellets obtained after extraction of myosin from myofibrils also indicates that tropomodulin remains associated with the thin filaments. 1.2-1.6 copies of muscle tropomodulin are present per thin filament in myofibrils, supporting the possibility that one or two tropomodulin molecules may be associated with the two terminal tropomyosin molecules at the pointed end of each thin filament. Although a number of proteins are associated with the barbed ends of the thin filaments at the Z disc, tropomodulin is the first protein to be specifically located at or near the pointed ends of the thin filaments. We propose that tropomodulin may cap the tropomyosin polymers at the pointed end of the thin filament and play a role in regulating thin filament length.
PMCID: PMC2119515  PMID: 8421055
9.  High Molecular Weight Tropomyosins Regulate Osteoclast Cytoskeletal Morphology 
Bone  2008;43(5):951-960.
Tropomyosins are coiled-coil dimers that bind to the major groove of F-actin and regulate its accessibility to actin-modifying proteins. Although approximately 40 tropomyosin isoforms have been identified in mammals, they can broadly be classified into two groups based on protein size, that is, high molecular weight and low molecular weight isoforms. Osteoclasts, which undergo rounds of polarization and depolarization as they progress through the resorptive cycle, possess an unusual and highly dynamic actin cytoskeleton. To further define some of the actin regulatory proteins involved in osteoclast activity, we previously performed a survey of tropomyosin isoforms in resting and resorbing osteoclasts. Osteoclasts were found to express two closely related tropomyosins of the high molecular weight type, which are not expressed in monocytic and macrophage precursors. These isoforms, Tm-2 and Tm-3, are not strongly associated with actin-rich adhesion structures, but are instead distributed diffusely throughout the cell. In this study, we found that Tm-2/3 expression occurs late in osteoclastogenesis and continues to increase as cells mature. Knockdown of these isoforms via RNA interference results in flattening and increased spreading of osteoclasts, accompanied by diminished motility and altered resorptive capacity. In contrast, overexpression of Tm-2, but not Tm-3, caused morphological changes that include decreased spreading of the cells and induction of actin patches or stress-fiber like actin filaments, also with effects on motility and resorption. Suppression of Tm-2/3 or overexpression of Tm-2 resulted in altered distribution of gelsolin and microfilament barbed ends. These data suggest that high molecular weight tropomyosins are expressed in fusing osteoclasts to regulate the cytoskeletal scaffolding of these large cells, due at least in part by moderating accessibility of gelsolin to these microfilaments.
PMCID: PMC2633438  PMID: 18674650
Osteoclasts; actin; tropomyosin; cytoskeleton; cell shape
10.  Interior decoration 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2011;5(2):181-186.
Cell migration and invasion requires the precise temporal and spatial orchestration of a variety of biological processes. Filaments of polymerized actin are critical players in these diverse processes, including the regulation of cell anchorage points (both cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix), the uptake and delivery of molecules via endocytic pathways and the generation of force for both membrane protrusion and retraction. How the actin filaments are specialized for each of these discrete functions is yet to be comprehensively elucidated. The cytoskeletal tropomyosins are a family of actin associating proteins that form head-to-tail polymers which lay in the major groove of polymerized actin filaments. In the present review we summarize the emerging isoform-specific functions of tropomyosins in cell migration and invasion and discuss their potential roles in the specialization of actin filaments for the diverse cellular processes that together regulate cell migration and invasion.
PMCID: PMC3084984  PMID: 21173575
tropomyosin; actin; migration; invasion; cytoskeleton; actin dynamics; adhesion
11.  Tropomyosin isoform modulation of focal adhesion structure and cell migration 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2010;4(2):226-234.
Orderly cell migration is essential for embryonic development, efficient wound healing and a functioning immune system and the dysregulation of this process leads to a number of pathologies. The speed and direction of cell migration is critically dependent on the structural organization of focal adhesions in the cell. While it is well established that contractile forces derived from the acto-myosin filaments control the structure and growth of focal adhesions, how this may be modulated to give different outcomes for speed and persistence is not well understood. The tropomyosin family of actin-associating proteins are emerging as important modulators of the contractile nature of associated actin filaments. The multiple non-muscle tropomyosin isoforms are differentially expressed between tissues and across development and are thought to be major regulators of actin filament functional specialization. In the present study we have investigated the effects of two splice variant isoforms from the same α-tropomyosin gene, TmBr1 and TmBr3, on focal adhesion structure and parameters of cell migration. These isoforms are normally switched on in neuronal cells during differentiation and we find that exogenous expression of the two isoforms in undifferentiated neuronal cells has discrete effects on cell migration parameters. While both isoforms cause reduced focal adhesion size and cell migration speed, they differentially effect actin filament phenotypes and migration persistence. Our data suggests that differential expression of tropomyosin isoforms may coordinate acto-myosin contractility and focal adhesion structure to modulate cell speed and persistence.
PMCID: PMC2900618  PMID: 20305380
focal adhesion; tropomyosin; actin; migration; persistence; speed; mesenchymal
12.  Differential localization of tropomyosin isoforms in cultured nonmuscle cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1988;107(2):563-572.
We have previously shown that chicken embryo fibroblast (CEF) cells and human bladder carcinoma (EJ) cells contain multiple isoforms of tropomyosin, identified as a, b, 1, 2, and 3 in CEF cells and 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in human EJ cells by one-dimensional SDS-PAGE (Lin, J. J.-C., D. M. Helfman, S. H. Hughes, and C.-S. Chou. 1985. J. Cell Biol. 100: 692-703; and Lin, J. J.-C., S. Yamashiro-Matsumura, and F. Matsumura. 1984. Cancer Cells 1:57-65). Both isoform 3 (TM-3) of CEF and isoforms 4,5 (TM-4,-5) of human EJ cells are the minor isoforms found respectively in normal chicken and human cells. They have a lower apparent molecular mass and show a weaker affinity to actin filaments when compared to the higher molecular mass isoforms. Using individual tropomyosin isoforms immobilized on nitrocellulose papers and sequential absorption of polyclonal antiserum on these papers, we have prepared antibodies specific to CEF TM-3 and to CEF TM-1,-2. In addition, two of our antitropomyosin mAbs, CG beta 6 and CG3, have now been demonstrated by Western blots, immunoprecipitation, and two- dimensional gel analysis to have specificities to human EJ TM-3 and TM- 5, respectively. By using these isoform-specific reagents, we are able to compare the intracellular localizations of the lower and higher molecular mass isoforms in both CEF and human EJ cells. We have found that both lower and higher molecular mass isoforms of tropomyosin are localized along stress fibers of cells, as one would expect. However, the lower molecular mass isoforms are also distributed in regions near ruffling membranes. Further evidence for this different localization of different tropomyosin isoforms comes from double-label immunofluorescence microscopy on the same CEF cells with affinity- purified antibody against TM-3, and monoclonal CG beta 6 antibody against TM-a, -b, -1, and -2 of CEF tropomyosin. The presence of the lower molecular mass isoform of tropomyosin in ruffling membranes may indicate a novel way for the nonmuscle cell to control the stability and organization of microfilaments, and to regulate the cell motility.
PMCID: PMC2115218  PMID: 3047141
13.  New Insights intothe Regulation of the Actin Cytoskeleton by Tropomyosin 
The actin cytoskeleton is regulated by a variety of actin-binding proteins including those constituting the tropomyosin family. Tropomyosins are coiled-coil dimers that bind along the length of actin filaments. In muscles, tropomyosin regulates the interaction of actin-containing thin filaments with myosin-containing thick filaments to allow contraction. In nonmuscle cells where multiple tropomyosin isoforms are expressed, tropomyosins participate in a number of cellular events involving the cytoskeleton. This chapter reviews the current state of the literature regarding tropomyosin structure and function and discusses the evidence that tropomyosins play a role in regulating actin assembly.
PMCID: PMC2923581  PMID: 20460184
Tropomyosin; Actin dynamics; Cytoskeleton; Muscle; Caldesmon
14.  Nebulin interactions with actin and tropomyosin are altered by disease-causing mutations 
Skeletal Muscle  2014;4:15.
Nemaline myopathy (NM) is a rare genetic muscle disorder, but one of the most common among the congenital myopathies. NM is caused by mutations in at least nine genes: Nebulin (NEB), α-actin (ACTA1), α-tropomyosin (TPM3), β-tropomyosin (TPM2), troponin T (TNNT1), cofilin-2 (CFL2), Kelch repeat and BTB (POZ) domain-containing 13 (KBTBD13), and Kelch-like family members 40 and 41 (KLHL40 and KLHL41). Nebulin is a giant (600 to 900 kDa) filamentous protein constituting part of the skeletal muscle thin filament. Around 90% of the primary structure of nebulin is composed of approximately 35-residue α-helical domains, which form super repeats that bind actin with high affinity. Each super repeat has been proposed to harbor one tropomyosin-binding site.
We produced four wild-type (WT) nebulin super repeats (S9, S14, S18, and S22), 283 to 347 amino acids long, and five corresponding repeats with a patient mutation included: three missense mutations (p.Glu2431Lys, p.Ser6366Ile, and p.Thr7382Pro) and two in-frame deletions (p.Arg2478_Asp2512del and p.Val3924_Asn3929del). We performed F-actin and tropomyosin-binding experiments for the nebulin super repeats, using co-sedimentation and GST (glutathione-S-transferase) pull-down assays. We also used the GST pull-down assay to test the affinity of WT nebulin super repeats for WT α- and β–tropomyosin, and for β-tropomyosin with six patient mutations: p.Lys7del, p.Glu41Lys, p.Lys49del, p.Glu117Lys, p.Glu139del and p.Gln147Pro.
WT nebulin was shown to interact with actin and tropomyosin. Both the nebulin super repeats containing the p.Glu2431Lys mutation and nebulin super repeats lacking exon 55 (p.Arg2478_Asp2512del) showed weak affinity for F-actin compared with WT fragments. Super repeats containing the p.Ser6366Ile mutation showed strong affinity for actin. When tested for tropomyosin affinity, super repeats containing the p.Glu2431Lys mutation showed stronger binding than WT proteins to tropomyosin, and the super repeat containing the p.Thr7382Pro mutation showed weaker binding than WT proteins to tropomyosin. Super repeats containing the deletion p.Val3924_Asn3929del showed similar affinity for actin and tropomyosin as that seen with WT super repeats. Of the tropomyosin mutations, only p.Glu41Lys showed weaker affinity for nebulin (super repeat 18).
We demonstrate for the first time the existence of direct tropomyosin-nebulin interactions in vitro, and show that nebulin interactions with actin and tropomyosin are altered by disease-causing mutations in nebulin and tropomyosin.
PMCID: PMC4126377  PMID: 25110572
Nemaline (rod) myopathy; Congenital myopathy; Nebulin; Actin; Tropomyosin and protein binding
15.  Tropomyosin Regulates Elongation by Formin at the Fast-Growing End of the Actin Filament† 
Biochemistry  2007;46(27):8146-8155.
The balance between dynamic and stable actin filaments is essential for the regulation of cellular functions including the determination of cell shape and polarity, cell migration, and cytokinesis. Proteins that regulate polymerization at the filament ends and filament stability confer specificity to actin filament structure and cellular function. The dynamics of the barbed, fast-growing end of the filament are controlled in space and time by both positive and negative regulators of actin polymerization. Capping proteins inhibit the addition and loss of subunits, whereas other proteins, including formins, bind at the barbed end and allow filament growth. In this work, we show that tropomyosin regulates dynamics at the barbed end. Tropomyosin binds to constructs of FRL1 and mDia2 that contain the FH2 domain and modulates formin-dependent capping of the barbed end by relieving inhibition of elongation by FRL1- FH1FH2, mDia1-FH2, and mDia2-FH2 in an isoform-dependent fashion. In this role, tropomyosin functions as an activator of formin. Tropomyosin also inhibits the binding of FRL1-FH1FH2 to the sides of actin filaments independent of the isoform. In contrast, tropomyosin does not affect the ability of capping protein to block the barbed end. We suggest that tropomyosin and formin act together to ensure the formation of unbranched actin filaments, protected from severing, that could be capped in stable cellular structures. This role, in addition to its cooperative control of myosin function, establishes tropomyosin as a universal regulator of the multifaceted actin cytoskeleton.
PMCID: PMC2581838  PMID: 17569543
16.  Assembly of different isoforms of actin and tropomyosin into the skeletal tropomyosin-enriched microfilaments during differentiation of muscle cells in vitro 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1986;103(6):2173-2183.
We have used a monoclonal antibody (CL2) directed against striated muscle isoforms of tropomyosin to selectively isolate a class of microfilaments (skeletal tropomyosin-enriched microfilaments) from differentiating muscle cells. This class of microfilaments differed from the one (tropomyosin-enriched microfilaments) isolated from the same cells by a monoclonal antibody (LCK16) recognizing all isoforms of muscle and nonmuscle tropomyosin. In myoblasts, the skeletal tropomyosin-enriched microfilaments had a higher content of alpha-actin and phosphorylated isoforms of tropomyosin as compared with the tropomyosin-enriched microfilaments. Moreover, besides muscle isoforms of actin and tropomyosin, significant amounts of nonmuscle isoforms of actin and tropomyosin were found in the skeletal tropomyosin-enriched microfilaments of myoblasts and myotubes. These results suggest that different isoforms of actin and tropomyosin can assemble into the same set of microfilaments, presumably pre-existing microfilaments, to form the skeletal tropomyosin-enriched microfilaments, which will eventually become the thin filaments of myofibrils. Therefore, the skeletal tropomyosin-enriched microfilaments detected here may represent an intermediate class of microfilaments formed during thin filament maturation. Electron microscopic studies of the isolated microfilaments from myoblasts and myotubes showed periodic localization of tropomyosin molecules along the microfilaments. The tropomyosin periodicity in the microfilaments of myoblasts and myotubes was 35 and 37 nm, respectively, whereas the nonmuscle tropomyosin along chicken embryo fibroblast microfilaments had a 34-nm repeat.
PMCID: PMC2114574  PMID: 3536961
17.  Structural differences between C-terminal regions of tropomyosin isoforms 
PeerJ  2013;1:e181.
Tropomyosins are actin-binding regulatory proteins which overlap end-to-end along the filament. High resolution structures of the overlap regions were determined for muscle and non-muscle tropomyosins in the absence of actin. Conformations of the junction regions bound to actin are unknown. In this work, orientation of the overlap on actin alone and on actin–myosin complex was evaluated by measuring FRET distances between a donor (AEDANS) attached to tropomyosin and an acceptor (DABMI) bound to actin’s Cys374. Donor was attached to the Cys residue introduced by site-directed mutagenesis near the C-terminal half of the overlap. The recombinant alpha-tropomyosin isoforms used in this study – skeletal muscle skTM, non-muscle TM2 and TM5a, and chimeric TM1b9a had various amino acid sequences of the N- and C-termini involved in the end-to-end overlap. The donor-acceptor distances calculated for each isoform varied between 36.4 Å and 48.1 Å. Rigor binding of myosin S1 increased the apparent FRET distances of skTM and TM2, but decreased the distances separating TM5a and TM1b9a from actin. The results show that isoform-specific sequences of the end-to-end overlaps determine orientations and dynamics of tropomyosin isoforms on actin. This can be important for specificity of tropomyosin in the regulation of actin filament diverse functions.
PMCID: PMC3807590  PMID: 24167776
Actin filament; Tropomyosin; FRET; Isoforms
18.  Tropomyosin Is Essential for Processive Movement of a Class V Myosin from Budding Yeast 
Current biology : CB  2012;22(15):1410-1416.
Myosin V is an actin-based motor protein involved in intracellular cargo transport [1]. Given this physiological role, it was widely assumed that all class V myosins are processive, able to take multiple steps along actin filaments without dissociating. This notion was challenged when several class V myosins were characterized as nonprocessive in vitro, including Myo2p, the essential class V myosin from S. cerevisiae [2–6]. Myo2p moves cargo including secretory vesicles and other organelles for several microns along actin cables in vivo. This demonstrated cargo transporter must therefore either operate in small ensembles or behave processively in the cellular context. Here we show that Myo2p moves processively in vitro as a single motor when it walks on an actin track that more closely resembles the actin cables found in vivo. The key to processivity is tropomyosin: Myo2p is not processive on bare actin but highly processive on actin-tropomyosin. The major yeast tropomyosin isoform, Tpm1p, supports the most robust processivity. Tropomyosin slows the rate of MgADP release, thus increasing the time the motor spends strongly attached to actin. This is the first example of tropomyosin switching a motor from nonprocessive to processive motion on actin.
PMCID: PMC3570268  PMID: 22704989
19.  Push and Pull of Tropomyosin’s Opposite Effects on Myosin Attachment to Actin. A Chimeric Tropomyosin Host-guest Study† 
Biochemistry  2010;49(51):10873-10880.
Tropomyosin is a ubiquitous actin-binding protein with an extended coiled-coil structure. Tropomyosin-actin interactions are weak and loosely specific, but they potently influence myosin. One such influence is inhibitory, and is due to tropomyosin’s statistically preferred positions on actin that sterically interfere with actin’s strong attachment site for myosin. Contrastingly, tropomyosin’s other influence is activating. It increases myosin’s overall actin affinity ~4-fold. Stoichiometric considerations cause this activating effect to equate to a ~ 47- fold effect of myosin on the actin-affinity of tropomyosin. These positive, mutual, myosin-tropomyosin effects are absent if S. cerevisiae tropomyosin replaces mammalian tropomyosin. To investigate these phenomena, chimeric tropomyosins were generated in which 38 residue muscle tropomyosin segments replaced a natural duplication within S. cerevisiae tropomyosin TPM1. Two such chimeric tropomyosins were sufficiently folded coiled-coils to allow functional study. The two chimeras differed from TPM1, but in opposite ways. Consistent with steric interference, myosin greatly decreased the actin-affinity of chimera 7, which contained muscle tropomyosin residues 228–265. On the other hand, myosin S1 increased by an order of magnitude the actin-affinity of chimera 3, which contained muscle tropomyosin residues 74–111. Similarly, myosin S1-ADP binding to actin was strengthened 2-fold by substitution of chimera 3 tropomyosin for wild type TPM1. Thus, a yeast tropomyosin was induced to mimic the activating behavior of mammalian tropomyosin by inserting a mammalian tropomyosin sequence. The data were not consistent with direct tropomyosin-myosin binding. Rather they suggest an allosteric mechanism, in which myosin and tropomyosin share an effect on the actin filament.
PMCID: PMC3683317  PMID: 21114337
20.  Periodicities designed in the tropomyosin sequence and structure define its functions 
Bioarchitecture  2013;3(3):51-56.
Tropomyosin is an actin binding protein that regulates actin filament dynamics and its interactions with actin binding proteins such as myosin, tropomodulin, formin, Arp2/3 and ADF-cofilin in most eukaryotic cells. Tropomyosin is the prototypical two-chained, α-helical coiled coil protein that associates end-to-end and binds to both sides of the actin filament. Each tropomyosin molecule spans four to seven actin monomers in the filament, depending on the size of the tropomyosin. Tropomyosins have a periodic heptad repeat sequence that is characteristic of coiled coil proteins as well as additional periodicities required for its interaction with the actin filament, where each periodic repeat interacts with one actin molecule. This review addresses the role of periodic features of the Tm molecule in carrying out its universal functions of binding to the actin filament and its regulation and the specific features that may determine the isoform specificity of tropomyosins.
PMCID: PMC3782539  PMID: 23887197
tropomyosin; muscle regulation; actin filament; cytoskeleton; coiled coil
21.  Mutations changing tropomodulin affinity for tropomyosin alter neurite formation and extension 
PeerJ  2013;1:e7.
Assembly of the actin cytoskeleton is an important part of formation of neurites in developing neurons. Tropomodulin, a tropomyosin-dependent capping protein for the pointed end of the actin filament, is one of the key players in this process. Tropomodulin binds tropomyosin in two binding sites. Tmod1 and Tmod2, tropomodulin isoforms found in neurons, were overexpressed in PC12 cells, a model system for neuronal differentiation. Tmod1 did not affect neuronal differentiation; while cells expressing Tmod2 showed a significant reduction in the number and the length of neurites. Both tropomodulins bind short α-, γ- and δ-tropomyosin isoforms. Mutations in one of the tropomyosin-binding sites of Tmod1, which increased its affinity to short γ- and δ-tropomyosin isoforms, caused a decrease in binding short α-tropomyosin isoforms along with a 2-fold decrease in the length of neurites. Our data demonstrate that Tmod1 is involved in neuronal differentiation for proper neurite formation and outgrowth, and that Tmod2 inhibits these processes. The mutations in the tropomyosin-binding site of Tmod1 impair neurite outgrowth, suggesting that the integrity of this binding site is critical for the proper function of Tmod1 during neuronal differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3628370  PMID: 23638401
Tropomodulin; Tropomyosin; Actin; Neurite formation; Cytoskeleton
22.  Myosin and Tropomyosin Stabilize the Conformation of Formin-nucleated Actin Filaments* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(38):31894-31904.
Background: The regulation of the conformational dynamics of cellular actin structures is poorly understood.
Results: Myosin and tropomyosin stabilize the conformation of formin-nucleated flexible actin filaments.
Conclusion: Actin-binding proteins can play a central role in the establishment of the conformational properties of actin filaments.
Significance: Our results add to our understanding of the mechanisms regulating the conformational and functional versatility of the actin cytoskeleton.
The conformational elasticity of the actin cytoskeleton is essential for its versatile biological functions. Increasing evidence supports that the interplay between the structural and functional properties of actin filaments is finely regulated by actin-binding proteins; however, the underlying mechanisms and biological consequences are not completely understood. Previous studies showed that the binding of formins to the barbed end induces conformational transitions in actin filaments by making them more flexible through long range allosteric interactions. These conformational changes are accompanied by altered functional properties of the filaments. To get insight into the conformational regulation of formin-nucleated actin structures, in the present work we investigated in detail how binding partners of formin-generated actin structures, myosin and tropomyosin, affect the conformation of the formin-nucleated actin filaments using fluorescence spectroscopic approaches. Time-dependent fluorescence anisotropy and temperature-dependent Förster-type resonance energy transfer measurements revealed that heavy meromyosin, similarly to tropomyosin, restores the formin-induced effects and stabilizes the conformation of actin filaments. The stabilizing effect of heavy meromyosin is cooperative. The kinetic analysis revealed that despite the qualitatively similar effects of heavy meromyosin and tropomyosin on the conformational dynamics of actin filaments the mechanisms of the conformational transition are different for the two proteins. Heavy meromyosin stabilizes the formin-nucleated actin filaments in an apparently single step reaction upon binding, whereas the stabilization by tropomyosin occurs after complex formation. These observations support the idea that actin-binding proteins are key elements of the molecular mechanisms that regulate the conformational and functional diversity of actin filaments in living cells.
PMCID: PMC3442522  PMID: 22753415
Actin; Cooperativity; Formin; Myosin; Tropomyosin; Conformational Dynamics; Fluorescence Spectroscopy
23.  Gestalt-binding of tropomyosin on actin during thin filament activation 
Journal of muscle research and cell motility  2013;34(0):10.1007/s10974-013-9342-0.
Our thesis is that thin filament function can only be fully understood and muscle regulation then elucidated if atomic structures of the thin filament are available to reveal the positions of tropomyosin on actin in all physiological states. After all, it is tropomyosin influenced by troponin that regulates myosin-crossbridge cycling on actin and therefore controls contraction in all muscles. In addition, we maintain that a complete appreciation of thin filament activation also requires that the mechanical properties of tropomyosin itself are recognized and then related to the effect of myosin-association on actin. Taking the Gestalt-binding of tropomyosin into account, coupled with our electron microscopy structures and computational chemistry, we propose a comprehensive mechanism for tropomyosin regulatory movement over the actin filament surface that explains the cooperative muscle activation process. In fact, well-known point mutations of critical amino acids on the actin-tropomyosin binding interface disrupt Gestalt-binding and are associated with a number of inherited myopathies. Moreover, dysregulation of tropomyosin may also be a factor that interferes with the gatekeeping operation of non-muscle tropomyosin in the controlling interactions of a wide variety of cellular actin-binding proteins. The clinical relevance of Gestalt-binding is discussed in articles by the Marston and the Gunning groups in this special journal issue devoted to the impact of tropomyosin on biological systems.
PMCID: PMC3773262  PMID: 23666668
Actin; muscle regulation; myosin; troponin; tropomyosin
24.  Purified thick filaments from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans: evidence for multiple proteins associated with core structures 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1988;106(6):1985-1995.
The thick filaments of the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, arising predominantly from the body-wall muscles, contain two myosin isoforms and paramyosin as their major proteins. The two myosins are located in distinct regions of the surfaces, while paramyosin is located within the backbones of the filaments. Tubular structures constitute the cores of the polar regions, and electron-dense material is present in the cores of the central regions (Epstein, H.F., D.M. Miller, I. Ortiz, and G.C. Berliner. 1985. J. Cell Biol. 100:904-915). Biochemical, genetic, and immunological experiments indicate that the two myosins and paramyosin are not necessary core components (Epstein, H.F., I. Ortiz, and L.A. Traeger Mackinnon. 1986. J. Cell Biol. 103:985-993). The existence of the core structures suggests, therefore, that additional proteins may be associated with thick filaments in C. elegans. To biochemically detect minor associated proteins, a new procedure for the isolation of thick filaments of high purity and structural preservation has been developed. The final step, glycerol gradient centrifugation, yielded fractions that are contaminated by, at most, 1-2% with actin, tropomyosin, or ribosome-associated proteins on the basis of Coomassie Blue staining and electron microscopy. Silver staining and radioautography of gel electrophoretograms of unlabeled and 35S-labeled proteins, respectively, revealed at least 10 additional bands that cosedimented with thick filaments in glycerol gradients. Core structures prepared from wild-type thick filaments contained at least six of these thick filament-associated protein bands. The six proteins also cosedimented with thick filaments purified by gradient centrifugation from CB190 mutants lacking myosin heavy chain B and from CB1214 mutants lacking paramyosin. For these reasons, we propose that the six associated proteins are potential candidates for putative components of core structures in the thick filaments of body-wall muscles of C. elegans.
PMCID: PMC2115133  PMID: 3384852
25.  Dual Roles of Tropomyosin as an F-Actin Stabilizer and a Regulator of Muscle Contraction in Caenorhabditis Elegans Body Wall Muscle 
Cell motility and the cytoskeleton  2006;63(11):659-672.
Tropomyosin is a well-characterized regulator of muscle contraction. It also stabilizes actin filaments in a variety of muscle and non-muscle cells. Although these two functions of tropomyosin could have different impacts on actin cytoskeletal organization, their functional relationship has not been studied in the same experimental system. Here, we investigated how tropomyosin stabilizes actin filaments and how this function is influenced by muscle contraction in Caenorhabditis elegans body wall muscle. We confirmed the antagonistic role of tropomyosin against UNC-60B, a muscle-specific ADF/cofilin isoform, in actin filament organization using multiple UNC-60B mutant alleles. Tropomyosin was also antagonistic to UNC-78 (AIP1) in vivo and protected actin filaments from disassembly by UNC-60B and UNC-78 in vitro, suggesting that tropomyosin protects actin filaments from the ADF/cofilin-AIP1 actin disassembly system in muscle cells. A mutation in the myosin heavy chain caused greater reduction in contractility than tropomyosin depletion. However, the myosin mutation showed much weaker suppression of the phenotypes of ADF/cofilin or AIP1 mutants than tropomyosin depletion. These results suggest that muscle contraction has only minor influence on the tropomyosin’s protective role against ADF/cofilin and AIP1, and that the two functions of tropomyosin in actin stability and muscle contraction are independent of each other.
PMCID: PMC1705952  PMID: 16937397
tropomyosin; ADF/cofilin; AIP1; myofibrils; actin dynamics

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