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1.  Tropomyosin isoforms and reagents 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(4):135-164.
Tropomyosins are rod-like dimers which form head-to-tail polymers along the length of actin filaments and regulate the access of actin binding proteins to the filaments.1 The diversity of tropomyosin isoforms, over 40 in mammals, and their role in an increasing number of biological processes presents a challenge both to experienced researchers and those new to this field. The increased appreciation that the role of these isoforms expands beyond that of simply stabilizing actin filaments has lead to a surge of reagents and techniques to study their function and mechanisms of action. This report is designed to provide a basic guide to the genes and proteins and the availability of reagents which allow effective study of this family of proteins. We highlight the value of combining multiple techniques to better evaluate the function of different tm isoforms and discuss the limitations of selected reagents. Brief background material is included to demystify some of the unfortunate complexity regarding this multi-gene family of proteins including the unconventional nomenclature of the isoforms and the evolutionary relationships of isoforms between species. Additionally, we present step-by-step detailed experimental protocols used in our laboratory to assist new comers to the field and experts alike.
doi:10.4161/bioa.1.4.17897
PMCID: PMC3210517  PMID: 22069507
tropomyosin; isoforms; cytoskeleton; reagents; antibodies; multi-gene family
2.  Tropomodulins are negative regulators of neurite outgrowth 
European journal of cell biology  2010;90(4):291-300.
Regulation of the actin cytoskeleton is critical for neurite formation. Tropomodulins (Tmods) regulate polymerization at actin filament pointed ends. Previous experiments using a mouse model deficient for the neuron specific isoform Tmod2 suggested a role for Tmods in neuronal function by impacting processes underlying learning and memory. However, the role of Tmods in neuronal function on the cellular level remains unknown. Immunofluorescence localization of the neuronal isoforms Tmod1 and Tmod2 in cultured rat primary hippocampal neurons revealed that Tmod1 is enriched along the proximal part of F-actin bundles in lamellipodia of spreading cells and in growth cones of extending neurites, while Tmod2 appears largely cytoplasmic. Functional analysis of these Tmod isoforms in a mouse neuroblastoma N2a cell line showed that knockdown of Tmod2 resulted in a significant increase in number of neurite-forming cells and in neurite length. While N2a cells compensated for Tmod2 knockdown by increasing Tmod1 levels, over-expression of exogenous Tmod1 had no effect on neurite outgrowth. Moreover, knockdown of Tmod1 increased the number of neurites formed per cell, without effect on number of neurite-forming cells or neurite length. Taken together, these results indicate that Tmod1 and Tmod2 have mechanistically distinct inhibitory roles in neurite formation, likely mediated via different effects on F-actin dynamics and via differential localizations during early neuritogenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.ejcb.2010.10.014
PMCID: PMC3042488  PMID: 21146252
Tropomodulin; F-actin; neurite outgrowth; N2a mouse neuroblastoma cells; cultured hippocampal neurons
3.  TPM3 and TPM4 gene products segregate to the postsynaptic region of central nervous system synapses 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(6):284-289.
Synaptic function in the central nervous system (CNS) is highly dependent on a dynamic actin cytoskeleton in both the pre- and the postsynaptic compartment. Remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton is controlled by tropomyosins, a family of actin-associated proteins which define distinct actin filament populations. Here we show that TPM3 and TPM4 gene products localize to the postsynaptic region in mouse hippocampal neurons. Furthermore our data confirm previous findings of isoform segregation to the pre- and postsynaptic compartments at CNS synapses. These data provide fundamental insights in the formation of functionally distinct actin filament populations at the pre- and post-synapse.
doi:10.4161/bioa.1.6.19336
PMCID: PMC3337131  PMID: 22545181
actin cytoskeleton; central nervous system; postsynapse; tropomyosin
4.  Functional identity of the gamma tropomyosin gene 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(1):49-59.
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.
doi:10.4161/bioa.1.1.15172
PMCID: PMC3158640  PMID: 21866263
cytoskeleton; actin; tropomyosin; redundancy; isoforms

Results 1-4 (4)