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1.  Structural studies on maturing actin filaments 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(3):127-133.
We have previously reported that actin undergoes a conformational transition (which we named “maturation”) during polymerization, and that the actin-binding protein, caldesmon (CaD), when added at an early phase of polymerization, interferes with this process (Huang et al. J Biol Chem 2010; 285:71). The pre-transition filament is characterized by relatively low pyrene-fluorescence intensity when pyrene-labeled actin is used as a reporter of subunit assembly into filaments, whereas the mature filament emits a characteristic enhanced fluorescence. Previously reported co-sedimentation experiments suggest that filament formation is not inhibited by the presence of CaD, despite blocking the transition associated with filament maturation. In this study we visualized structural effects of CaD on the assembly of actin filaments by TIRF and electron microscopy. CaD-free actin forms “rough” filaments with irregular edges and indistinct subunit organization during the initial phase (∼20 min under our conditions) of polymerization as reported previously by others (Steinmetz et al. J Cell Biol 1997; 138:559; Galinska-Rakoczy et al. J Mol Biol 2009; 387:869), which most likely correspond to the pre-transition state preceding the maturation step. Later during the polymerization process “mature” filaments exhibit a smoother F-actin appearance with easily detectible double helically arranged actin subunits. While the inclusion of the actin-binding domain of CaD during actin polymerization does not affect the elongation rate, it is associated with a prolonged pre-transition phase, characterized by a delayed alteration (rough to smooth) of the appearance of filaments, consistent with a later onset of the maturation process.
PMCID: PMC3173961  PMID: 21922043
actin; polymerization; caldesmon; TIRF microscopy; electron microscopy; conformational change; cytoskeleton dynamics

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