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Fath, Thomas (2)
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Lin, Jim JC (1)
Whittaker, Shane P (1)
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Tropomyosin isoforms and reagents
Whittaker, Shane P
Lin, Jim JC
Gunning, Peter W
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.
tropomyosin; isoforms; cytoskeleton; reagents; antibodies; multi-gene family
Functional identity of the gamma tropomyosin gene
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
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