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.
Tropomyosin; Actin dynamics; Cytoskeleton; Muscle; Caldesmon
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.
tropomyosin; actin; migration; invasion; cytoskeleton; actin dynamics; adhesion
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.
tropomyosin; ADF/cofilin; AIP1; myofibrils; actin dynamics
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.
Osteoclasts; actin; tropomyosin; cytoskeleton; cell shape
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.
Actin; Truncated actin; Tropomyosin; Smooth muscle; Non-muscle; Regulation
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.
focal adhesion; tropomyosin; actin; migration; persistence; speed; mesenchymal
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.
Tropomodulin; Tropomyosin; Actin; Neurite formation; Cytoskeleton
In striated muscle, regulation of actin-myosin interactions depends on a series of conformational changes within the thin filament that result in a shifting of the tropomyosin-troponin complex between distinct locations on actin. The major factors activating the filament are Ca2+ and strongly bound myosin heads. Many lines of evidence also point to an active role of actin in the regulation. Involvement of the actin C-terminus in binding of tropomyosin-troponin in different activation states and the regulation of actin-myosin interactions were examined using actin modified by proteolytic removal of three C-terminal amino acids. Actin C-terminal modification has no effect on the binding of tropomyosin or tropomyosin-troponin + Ca2+, but it reduces tropomyosin-troponin affinity in the absence of Ca2+. In contrast, myosin S1 induces binding of tropomyosin to truncated actin more readily than to native actin. The rate of actin-activated myosin S1 ATPase activity is reduced by actin truncation both in the absence and presence of tropomyosin. The Ca2+-dependent regulation of the ATPase activity is preserved. Without Ca2+ the ATPase activity is fully inhibited, but in the presence of Ca2+ the activation does not reach the level observed for native actin. The results suggest that through long-range allosteric interactions the actin C-terminus participates in the thin filament regulation.
The balance of transition between distinct adhesion types contributes to the regulation of mesenchymal cell migration, and the characteristic association of adhesions with actin filaments led us to question the role of actin filament-associating proteins in the transition between adhesive states. Tropomyosin isoform association with actin filaments imparts distinct filament structures, and we have thus investigated the role for tropomyosins in determining the formation of distinct adhesion structures. Using combinations of overexpression, knockdown, and knockout approaches, we establish that Tm5NM1 preferentially stabilizes focal adhesions and drives the transition to fibrillar adhesions via stabilization of actin filaments. Moreover, our data suggest that the expression of Tm5NM1 is a critical determinant of paxillin phosphorylation, a signaling event that is necessary for focal adhesion disassembly. Thus, we propose that Tm5NM1 can regulate the feedback loop between focal adhesion disassembly and focal complex formation at the leading edge that is required for productive and directed cell movement.
Tropomyosin plays a key role in controlling calcium regulated sarcomeric contraction through its interactions with actin and the troponin complex. The focus of this review is on striated muscle tropomyosin isoforms and the in vivo approach we have taken to define the functional differences among these isoforms in regulating cardiac physiology. In addition, we address specific regions within tropomyosin that differ among the isoforms to impart differences in the physiological performance of muscle and the sarcomere itself. There is a high degree of amino acid identity among the three striated muscle α-, β-, and γ-tropomyosin isoforms; this identity ranges from 86% – 91%. We employ transgenic mouse model systems that express the different tropomyosin isoforms or chimeric tropomyosin molecules specifically in the myocardium. Results show the three isoforms differentially regulate the rates of cardiac contraction and relaxation, along with conferring differences in myofilament calcium sensitivity and sarcomere tension development. We also found the putative troponin T binding regions of tropomyosin (amino acids 175-190 and 258-284) appear to a play significant role in imparting these physiological differences that are observed during cardiac and sarcomeric contraction/relaxation. In addition, we have successfully used chimeric tropomyosin molecules to rescue cardiomyopathic diseased mice by normalizing sarcomeric performance. These studies illustrate not only the importance of tropomyosin structure and function for understanding muscle physiology, but also demonstrate how this information can potentially be used for gene therapy.
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.
tropomyosin; tropomodulin; actin filament; circular dichroism; nuclear magnetic resonance
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.
Actin (thin) filament length regulation and stability are essential for striated muscle function. To determine the role of the actin filament pointed end capping protein, tropomodulin1 (Tmod1), with tropomyosin, we generated monoclonal antibodies (mAb17 and mAb8) against Tmod1 that specifically disrupted its interaction with tropomyosin in vitro. Microinjection of mAb17 or mAb8 into chick cardiac myocytes caused a dramatic loss of the thin filaments, as revealed by immunofluorescence deconvolution microscopy. Real-time imaging of live myocytes expressing green fluorescent protein–α-tropomyosin and microinjected with mAb17 revealed that the thin filaments depolymerized from their pointed ends. In a thin filament reconstitution assay, stabilization of the filaments before the addition of mAb17 prevented the loss of thin filaments. These studies indicate that the interaction of Tmod1 with tropomyosin is critical for thin filament stability. These data, together with previous studies, indicate that Tmod1 is a multifunctional protein: its actin filament capping activity prevents thin filament elongation, whereas its interaction with tropomyosin prevents thin filament depolymerization.
sarcomere; myofibrillogenesis; cardiac muscle; actin; thin filament
Point mutations targeting muscle thin filament proteins are the cause of a number of cardiomyopathies. In many cases, biological effects of the mutations are well-documented, whereas their structural and mechanical impact on filament assembly and regulatory function is lacking. In order to elucidate molecular defects leading to cardiac dysfunction, we have examined the structural mechanics of two tropomyosin mutants, E180G and D175N, which are associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Tropomyosin is an α–helical coiled-coil dimer which polymerizes end-to-end to create an elongated superhelix that wraps around F-actin filaments of muscle and non-muscle cells, thus modulating the binding of other actin-binding proteins. Here, we study how flexibility changes in the E180G and D175N mutants might affect tropomyosin binding and regulatory motion on F-actin. Electron microscopy and Molecular Dynamics simulations show that E180G and D175N mutations cause an increase in bending flexibility of tropomyosin both locally and globally. This excess flexibility is likely to increase accessibility of the myosin-binding sites on F-actin, thus destabilizing the low-Ca2+ relaxed-state of cardiac muscle. The resulting imbalance in the on-off switching mechanism of the mutants will shift the regulatory equilibrium towards Ca2+-activation of cardiac muscle, as is observed in affected muscle, accompanied by enhanced systolic activity, diastolic dysfunction, and cardiac compensations associated with HCM and heart failure.
actin; cardiomyopathy; electron microscopy; Molecular Dynamics; tropomyosin
Differential interactions of tropomyosin (TM) isoforms with actin can be important for determination of the thin filament functions. A mechanism of tropomyosin binding to actin was studied by comparing interactions of five αTM isoforms with actin modified with m-maleimidobenzoyl-N-hydroxysuccinimide ester (MBS) and with fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate (FITC). MBS attachment sites were revealed with mass spectrometry methods. We found that the predominant actin fraction was cross-linked by MBS within subdomain 3. A smaller fraction of the modified actin was cross-linked within subdomain 2 and between subdomains 2 and 1. Moreover, investigated actins carried single labels in subdomains 1, 2, and 3. Such extensive modification caused a large decrease in actin affinity for skeletal and smooth muscle tropomyosins, nonmuscle TM2, and chimeric TM1b9a. In contrast, binding of nonmuscle isoform TM5a was less affected. Isoform’s affinity for actin modified in subdomain 2 by binding of FITC to Lys61 was intermediate between the affinity for native actin and MBS-modified actin except for TM5a, which bound to FITC–actin with similar affinity as to actin modified with MBS. The analysis of binding curves according to the McGhee–von Hippel model revealed that binding to an isolated site, as well as cooperativity of binding to a contiguous site, was affected by both actin modifications in a TM isoform-specific manner.
Maleimidobenzoyl–actin; Cross-linked actin; FITC–actin; Mass spectrometry; Tropomyosin isoforms
The human trk oncogene was generated by a genetic rearrangement that replaced the extracellular domain of the normal trk tyrosine kinase receptor by sequences coding for the 221 amino-terminal residues of a nonmuscle tropomyosin. Molecular dissection of a cDNA clone of the trk oncogene indicated that both the tropomyosin and tyrosine kinase domains were required for proper transforming activity. Replacement of nonmuscle tropomyosin sequences with those of other tropomyosin isoforms had no deleterious effect. However, when tropomyosin sequences were replaced with those of another cytoskeletal gene, such as beta-actin or beta-globin, transforming activity was completely abolished. These results illustrate the important role of tropomyosin sequences in endowing the trk kinase with transforming properties. Functionally unrelated subdomains of the tropomyosin molecule were equally efficient in activating the trk gene. Moreover, the transforming activity of the trk oncogene was not affected when its subcellular localization was drastically altered. Therefore, tropomyosin sequences are likely to contribute to the malignant activation of the trk oncogene not by facilitating its interaction with defined cytoskeletal structures as initially suspected, but by allowing its kinase domain to fold into a constitutively active configuration.
The functional diversity of the actin microfilaments relies in part on the actin binding protein tropomyosin (Tm). The muscle-specific Tms regulate actin-myosin interactions and hence contraction. However, there is less known about the roles of the numerous cytoskeletal isoforms. We have shown previously that a cytoskeletal Tm, Tm5NM1, defines a Z-line adjacent cytoskeleton in skeletal muscle. Recently, we identified a second cytoskeletal Tm in this region, Tm4. Here we show that Tm4 and Tm5NM1 define separate actin filaments; the former associated with the terminal sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and other tubulovesicular structures. In skeletal muscles of Tm5NM1 knockout (KO) mice, Tm4 localization was unchanged, demonstrating the specificity of the membrane association. Tm5NM1 KO muscles exhibit potentiation of T-system depolarization and decreased force rundown with repeated T-tubule depolarizations consistent with altered T-tubule function. These results indicate that a Tm5NM1-defined actin cytoskeleton is required for the normal excitation–contraction coupling in skeletal muscle.
The apex of hair cells of the chicken auditory organ contains three different kinds of assemblies of actin filaments in close spatial proximity. These are (a) paracrystals of actin filaments with identical polarity in stereocilia, (b) a dense gellike meshwork of actin filaments forming the cuticular plate, and (c) a bundle of parallel actin filaments with mixed polarities that constitute the circumferential filament belt attached to the cytoplasmic aspect of the zonula adhaerens (ZA). Each different supramolecular assembly of actin filaments contains a specific actin filament cross-linking protein which is unique to that particular assembly. Thus fimbrin appears to be responsible for paracrystallin packing of actin filaments in stereocillia; an isoform of spectrin resides in the cuticular plate where it forms the whisker-like crossbridges, and alpha actinin is the actin crosslinking protein of the circumferential ZA bundle. Tropomyosin, which stabilizes actin filaments, is present in all the actin filament assemblies except for the stereocilia. Another striking finding was that myosin appears to be absent from the ZA ring and cuticular plate of hair cells although present in the ZA ring of supporting cells. The abundance of myosin in the ZA ring of the surrounding supporting cells means that it may be important in forming a supporting tensile cellular framework in which the hair cells are inserted.
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.
Crystals of full-length yeast tropomyosin 2 from S. cerevisiae have been obtained.
Tropomyosin is a highly conserved actin-binding protein that is found in most eukaryotic cells. It is critical for actin-filament stabilization and for cooperative regulation of many actin functions. Detailed structural information on tropomyosin is very important in order to understand the mechanisms of its action. Whereas structures of isolated tropomyosin fragments have been obtained at high resolution, the atomic structure of the entire tropomyosin molecule is still unknown. Here, the crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of full-length yeast tropomyosin 2 (yTm2) from Saccharomyces cerevisiae are reported. Recombinant yTm2 expressed in Escherichia coli was crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. The crystals belonged to space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a = 154.8, b = 49.9, c = 104.0 Å, α = γ = 90.0, β = 124.0° and two molecules in the asymmetric unit. A complete native X-ray diffraction data set was collected to 3.5 Å resolution using synchrotron radiation.
full-length tropomyosin; yeast; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
The actin filament system is fundamental to cellular functions including regulation of shape, motility, cytokinesis, intracellular trafficking and tissue organization. Tropomyosins (Tm) are highly conserved components of actin filaments which differentially regulate filament stability and function. The mammalian Tm family consists of four genes; αTm, βTm, γTm and δTm. Multiple Tm isoforms (>40) are generated by alternative splicing and expression of these isoforms is highly regulated during development. In order to further identify the role of Tm isoforms during development, we tested the specificity of function of products from the γTm gene family in mice using a series of gene knockouts. Ablation of all γTm gene cytoskeletal products results in embryonic lethality. Elimination of just two cytoskeletal products from the γTm gene (NM1,2) resulted in a 50% reduction in embryo viability. It was also not possible to generate homozygous knockout ES cells for the targets which eliminated or reduced embryo viability in mice. In contrast, homozygous knockout ES cells were generated for a different set of isoforms (NM3,5,6,8,9,11) which were not required for embryogenesis. We also observed that males hemizygous for the knockout of all cytoskeletal products from the γTm gene preferentially transmitted the minus allele with 80–100% transmission. Since all four Tm genes are expressed in early embryos, ES cells and sperm, we conclude that isoforms of the γTm gene are functionally unique in their role in embryogenesis, ES cell viability and sperm function.
cytoskeleton; actin; tropomyosin; redundancy; isoforms
Tropomyosins (Tms) are α-helical dimers that bind and stabilize actin microfilaments while regulating their accessibility to other actin-associated proteins. Four genes encode expression of over forty Tms, most of which are expressed in nonmuscle cells. In recent years, it has become clear that individual Tm isoforms may regulate specific actin pools within cells. In this study, we examined how osteoclast function may be regulated by the tropomyosin isoform Tm-4, which we previously showed to be highly localized to podosomes and sealing zones of osteoclasts. RNAi-mediated knockdown of Tm-4, both in RAW264.7- and mouse marrow-derived osteoclasts, resulted in thinning of the actin ring of the sealing zone. Knockdown of Tm-4 also resulted in diminished bone resorptive capacity and altered resorption pit shape. In contrast, osteoclasts overexpressing Tm-4 demonstrated thickened podosomes on glass as well as thickened, aberrant actin structures on bone, and diminished motility and resorptive capacity. These results indicate that Tm-4 plays a role in regulating adhesion structures of osteoclasts, most likely by stabilizing the actin microfilaments present in podosomes and the sealing zone.
tropomyosin; actin; motility; osteoclasts
Microfilaments have been reported to be polarized in a number of cell types based both on function and isoform composition. There is evidence that microfilaments are involved in the movement of vesicles and the polarized delivery of proteins to specialized membrane domains. We have investigated the composition of actin microfilaments in gastrointestinal epithelial cells and their role in the delivery of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) into the apical membrane using cultured T84 cells as a model. We identified a specific population of microfilaments containing the tropomyosin (Tm) isoforms Tm5a and/or Tm5b, which are polarized in T84 cell monolayers. Polarization of this microfilament population occurs very rapidly in response to cell-cell and cell-substratum contact and is not inhibited by jasplakinolide, suggesting this involves the movement of intact filaments. Colocalization of Tm5a and/or Tm5b and CFTR was observed in long-term cultures. A reduction in Tm5a and Tm5b expression, induced using antisense oligonucleotides, resulted in an increase in both CFTR surface expression and chloride efflux in response to cAMP stimulation. We conclude that Tm isoforms Tm5a and/or Tm5b mark an apical population of microfilaments that can regulate the insertion and/or retention of CFTR into the plasma membrane.
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.
Actin; Cooperativity; Formin; Myosin; Tropomyosin; Conformational Dynamics; Fluorescence Spectroscopy
The actin filament system is essential for many cellular functions, including shape, motility, cytokinesis, intracellular trafficking, and tissue organization. Tropomyosins (Tms) are rod-like components of most actin filaments that differentially affect their stability and flexibility. The Tm gene family consists of four genes, αTm, βTm, γTm (Tm5 NM, where “NM” indicates “nonmuscle”), and δTm (Tm4). Multiple isoforms of the Tm family are generated by alternative splicing of three of these genes, and their expression is highly regulated. Extensive spatial and temporal sorting of Tm isoforms into different cellular compartments has been shown to occur in several cell types. We have addressed the function of the low-molecular-weight Tms encoded by the γTm gene by eliminating the corresponding amino-terminal coding sequences from this gene. Heterozygous mice were generated, and subsequent intercrossing of the F1 pups did not result in any viable homozygous knockouts. Genotype analysis of day 2.5 morulae also failed to detect any homozygous knockouts. We have failed in our attempts to delete the second allele and generate in vitro double-knockout cells, although 51 clones displayed homologous recombination back into the originally targeted locus. We therefore conclude that low-molecular-weight products from the γTm gene are essential for both embryonic development and cell survival.