Lymphocytes such as T cells, B cells and natural killer (NK) cells form specialized contacts, called immunological synapses, with other cells in order to engage in specific intercellular communication and killing. Synapse formation is associated with the polarization of the microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) toward the contact site, which enables the directional secretion of cytokines and lytic factors. Although MTOC reorientation to the synapse is crucial for lymphocyte function, it has been difficult to study because of technical constraints. We have developed a photoactivation and imaging strategy that enables high-resolution analysis of cytoskeletal dynamics in individual T cells. Using this approach, we have demonstrated that the lipid second messenger diacylglycerol plays a crucial role in promoting MTOC reorientation by recruiting three members of the protein kinase C family to the synapse. Here, I will discuss these results along with studies from other labs, which have explored the role of polarity-inducing protein complexes after synapse formation. I will also propose a two-step model for MTOC reorientation in lymphocytes that reflects what we now know about the subject. Finally, I will consider the extent to which lymphocyte polarity resembles analogous cell polarity systems in other cell types.
polarity; T cell; microtubule; cytoskeleton; signaling; lymphocyte; chemical biology
Skeletal muscle exhibits strikingly regular intracellular sorting of actin and tropomodulin (Tmod) isoforms, which are essential for efficient muscle contraction. A recent study from our laboratory demonstrates that the skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) is associated with cytoplasmic γ-actin (γcyto-actin) filaments, which are predominantly capped by Tmod3. When Tmod3 is experimentally induced to vacate its SR compartment, the cytoskeletal organization of SR-associated γcyto-actin is perturbed, leading to SR swelling, depressed SR Ca2+ release and myofibril misalignment. Based on these findings, Tmod3-capped γcyto-actin filaments mechanically stabilize SR structure and regulate SR function via a novel lateral linkage. Furthermore, by placing these findings in the context of studies in nonmuscle cells, we conclude that Tmodcapped actin filaments are emerging as critical regulators of membrane stability and physiology in a broad assortment of cell types.
cell membrane; cytoskeletal connections; muscle contraction; sarcomere; sarcoplasmic reticulum; thin filament
Mechanoelectrical transduction (MET), the conversion of mechanical stimuli into electrical signals operated by the sensory cells of the inner ear, enables hearing and balance perception. Crucial to this process are the tip-links, oblique fibrous filaments that interconnect the actin-filled stereocilia of different rows within the hair bundle, and mechanically gate MET channels. In a recent study, we observed a complete regression of stereocilia from the short and medium but not the tall row upon the disappearance of the tip-links caused by the loss of one of their components, cadherin-23, or of one of their anchoring proteins, sans, in the auditory organs of engineered mutant mice. This indicates the existence of a coupling between the MET and F-actin polymerization machineries at the tips of the short and medium stereocilia rows in cochlear hair bundles. Here, we first present our findings in the mutant mice, and then discuss the possible effects of the tip-link tension on stereocilia F-actin polymerization, acting either directly or through Ca2+-dependent mechanisms that involve the gating of MET channels.
hair cell; hair bundle; stereocilia; mechanoelectrical transduction (MET); tip-link; sans protein; actin polymerization
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
Aspects of cellular architecture, such as cytoskeletal asymmetry cues, play critical roles in directing the placement of organelles and establishing the sites of their formation. In the model green alga Chlamydomonas, the photosensory eyespot occupies a defined position in relation to the flagella and microtubule cytoskeleton. Investigations into the cellular mechanisms of eyespot placement and assembly have aided our understanding of the interplay between cytoskeletal and plastid components of the cell. The eyespot, which must be assembled anew after each cell division, is a multi-layered organelle consisting of stacks of carotenoid-filled pigment granules in the chloroplast and rhodopsin photoreceptors in the plasma membrane. Placement of the eyespot is determined on both the latitudinal and longitudinal axes of the cell by the daughter four-membered (D4) microtubule rootlet. Recent findings have contributed to the hypothesis that the eyespot photoreceptor molecules are directed from the Golgi to the daughter hemisphere of the cell and trafficked along the D4 microtubule rootlet. EYE2, a chloroplast-envelope protein, forms an elliptical patch together with the photoreceptors and establishes the site for assembly of the pigment granule arrays in the chloroplast, connecting the positioning information of the cytoskeleton to assembly of the pigment granule arrays in the chloroplast.
Chlamydomonas; eyespot; organelle placement; organelle assembly; microtubule rootlet; asymmetry; photoreception
Metastasis involves tumor cells moving through tissues and crossing tissue boundaries, which requires cell migration, remodeling of cell-to-cell contacts and interactions with the extracellular matrix. Individual tumor cells move in three-dimensional environments with either a rounded “ameboid” or an elongated “mesenchymal” morphology. These two modes of movement are tightly regulated by Rho family GTPases: elongated movement requires activation of Rac1, whereas rounded movement engages specific Cdc42 and Rho signaling pathways. It has been known for some time that events unfolding downstream of Ras GTPases are also involved in regulating multiple aspects of cell migration and invasion. More recently, RasGRF2—a Ras activator—has been identified as a suppressor of rounded movement, by inhibiting the activation of Cdc42, independently of its capacity to activate Ras. Here, we discuss how Rho and Ras signals can either cooperate or oppose each other in the regulation of cell migration and invasion.
Ras GTPases; Rho GTPases; RasGRF; cell migration and invasion; metastasis
The actin cytoskeleton plays essential roles in cell polarization and cell morphogenesis of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast cells utilize formin-generated actin cables as tracks for polarized transport, which forms the basis for a positive feedback loop driving Cdc42-dependent cell polarization. Previous studies on cable organization mostly focused on polarized actin cables in budded cells and their role as relatively static tracks for myosin-dependent organelle transport. Using quantitative live cell imaging, we have recently characterized the dynamics of cortical actin cables throughout the yeast cell cycle. Surprisingly, randomly oriented actin cables in G1 cells exhibited the highest level of dynamics, while cable dynamics was markedly slowed down upon cell polarization. We further demonstrated that the rapid dynamics of randomly oriented cables were driven by the formin Bni1 and Myosin V. Our data suggested a precise spatio-temporal regulation of the two yeast formins, as well as an unexpected mechanism of actin cable rearrangement through myosins. Here we discuss the immediate significance of these findings, which illustrates the importance of generating randomness for cellular organization.
actin; formin; myosin; polarity; self organization
Adherens junctions (AJs) and tight junctions (TJs) represent key adhesive structures that regulate the apico-basal polarity and barrier properties of epithelial layers. AJs and TJs readily undergo disassembly and reassembly during normal tissue remodeling and disruption of epithelial barriers in diseases. Such junctional plasticity depends on the orchestrated dynamics of the plasma membrane with its underlying F-actin cytoskeleton, however the interplay between these cellular structures remains poorly understood. Recent studies highlighted the spectrin-adducin-based membrane skeleton as an emerging regulator of AJ and TJ integrity and remodeling. Here we discuss new evidences implicating adducin, spectrin and other membrane skeleton proteins in stabilization of epithelial junctions and regulation of junctional dynamics. Based on the known ability of the membrane skeleton to link cortical actin filaments to the plasma membrane, we hypothesize that the spectrin-adducin network serves as a critical signal and force transducer from the actomyosin cytoskeleton to junctions during remodeling of AJs and TJs.
adherens junctions; tight junctions; permeability; membrane skeleton; actomyosin; contractility; calcium switch
The function of nuclear actin is poorly understood. It is known to be a discrete component of several chromatin-modifying complexes. Nevertheless, filamentous forms of actin are important for various nuclear processes as well. Nuclear actin is often associated with nuclear actin-related protein Arp4 and other actin-related proteins like Arp8 in the INO80 chromatin remodeler. We recently determined the crystal structure of S. cerevisiae Arp4 that explains why Arp4 is unable to form actin like filaments and shows that it is constitutively bound to an ATP nucleotide. More interestingly, in vitro activities of Arp4 and Arp8 seem to be directed towards stabilizing monomeric actin and to integrate it stoichiometrically into the INO80 complex. Based on this activity, we discuss possible roles of nuclear Arps in chromatin modifying complexes and in regulating more general aspects of nuclear actin dynamics.
actin-related proteins; chromatin remodeling; INO80 complex; nuclear actin
Directional cellular movement is required for various organismal processes, including immune defense and cancer metastasis. Proper navigation of migrating cells involves responding to a complex set of extracellular cues, including diffusible chemical signals and physical structural information. In tissues, conflicting gradients and signals may require cells to not only respond to the environment but also modulate it for efficient adhesion formation and directional cell motility. Recently, we found that cells endocytose fibronectin (FN) and resecrete it from a late endosomal/lysosomal (LE/Lys) compartment to provide an autocrine extracellular matrix (ECM) substrate for cell motility. Branched actin assembly regulated by cortactin was required for trafficking of FN-containing vesicles from LE/Lys to the cell surface. These findings suggest a model in which migrating cells use lysosomal secretion as a versatile mechanism to modulate the ECM environment, promote adhesion assembly and enhance directional migration.
Arp2/3 complex; branched actin; cell motility; cortactin; extracellular matrix; fibronectin; lamellipodium; late endosomal/lysosomal compartments; lysosomal secretion; migration
Dendritic spines are postsynaptic structures that receive excitatory synaptic signals from presynaptic terminals in neurons. Because the morphology of spines has been considered to be a crucial factor for the efficiency of synaptic transmission, understanding the mechanisms regulating their morphology is important for neuroscience. Actin filaments and their regulatory proteins are known to actively maintain spine morphology; recent studies have also shown an essential role of microtubules (MTs). Live imaging of the plus-ends of MTs in mature neurons revealed that MTs stochastically enter spines and mediate accumulation of p140Cap, which regulates reorganization of actin filaments. However, the molecular mechanism by which MT dynamics is controlled has remained largely unknown. A cell polarity-regulating serine/threonine kinase, partitioning-defective 1 (PAR-1), phosphorylates classical MAPs and inhibits their binding to MTs. Because the interaction of MAPs with MTs can decrease MT dynamic instability, PAR-1 is supposed to activate MT dynamics through its MAP/MT affinity-regulating kinase (MARK) activity, although there is not yet any direct evidence for this. Here, we review recent findings on the localization of PAR-1b in the dendrites of mouse hippocampal neurons, and its novel function in the maintenance of mature spine morphology by regulating MT dynamics.
dendritic spine; microtubule associated proteins; microtubule dynamics; microtubule plus-end tracking proteins; partition defective 1/microtubule affinity-regulating kinase; partitioning-defective protein–atypical protein kinase C system
The special architecture of neurons in the peripheral nervous system, with axons extending for long distances, represents a major challenge for the intracellular transport system. Two recent studies show that mutations in the small heat shock protein HSPB1, which cause an axonal type of Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) neuropathy, affect microtubule dynamics and impede axonal transport. Intriguingly, while at presymptomatic age the neurons in the mutant HSPB1 mouse show a hyperstable microtubule network, at postsymptomatic age, the microtubule network completely lost its stability as reflected by a marked decrease in tubulin acetylation levels. We here propose a model explaining the role of microtubule stabilization and tubulin acetylation in the pathogenesis of HSPB1 mutations.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth; HSP27; HSPB1; microtubule dynamics; microtubule stabilization; neurodegeneration; peripheral nervous system; Peripheral neuropathy; tubulin acetylation
Actin filaments, an essential part of the cytoskeleton, drive various cell processes, during which they elongate, disassemble and form different architectures. Over the past 30 years, the study of actin dynamics has relied mainly on bulk solution measurements, which revealed the kinetics and thermodynamics of actin self-assembly at barbed and pointed ends, its control by ATP hydrolysis and its regulation by proteins binding either monomeric actin or filament ends and sides. These measurements provide quantitative information on the averaged behavior of a homogeneous population of filaments. They have been complemented by light microscopy observations of stabilized individual filaments, providing information inaccessible using averaging methods, such as mechanical properties or length distributions. In the past ten years, the improvement of light microscopy techniques has allowed biophysicists to monitor the dynamics of individual actin filaments, thus giving access to the length fluctuations of filaments or the mechanism of processive assembly by formins. Recently, in order to solve some of the problems linked to these observations, such as the need to immobilize filaments on a coverslip, we have used microfluidics as a tool to improve the observation, manipulation and analysis of individual actin filaments. This microfluidic method allowed us to rapidly switch filaments from polymerizing to depolymerizing conditions, and derive the molecular mechanism of ATP hydrolysis on a single filament from the kinetic analysis of its nucleotide-dependent disassembly rate. Here, we discuss how this work sets the basis for future experiments on actin dynamics, and briefly outline promising developments of this technique.
actin assembly dynamics; microfluidics; single filament; TIRF microscopy
Myosin binding protein C (MyBP-C or C-protein) is a protein of the thick (myosin-containing) filaments of striated muscle thought to be involved in the modulation of cardiac contraction in response to β-adrenergic stimulation. The mechanism of this modulation is unknown, but one possibility is through transient binding of the N-terminal end of MyBP-C to the thin (actin-containing) filaments. While such binding has been demonstrated in vitro, it was not known until recently whether such a link between thick and thin filaments also occurred in vivo. Here we review a recent paper in which electron microscopy (EM) is used to directly demonstrate MyBP-C links between myosin and actin filaments in the intact sarcomere, suggesting a possible physical mechanism for modulating filament sliding. Molecular details of MyBP-C binding to actin have recently been elucidated by EM of isolated filaments: the results suggest that MyBP-C might contribute to the modulation of contraction in part by competing with tropomyosin for binding sites on actin. New results on the structure and dynamics of the MyBP-C molecule provide additional insights into the function of this enigmatic molecule.
C-protein; cardiac muscle regulation; electron tomography; sarcomere structure; thick filament structure
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.
actin cytoskeleton; central nervous system; postsynapse; tropomyosin
Actin is one of the most abundant proteins in eukaryote cells, which forms a double stranded filament. The actin filament is not only a main component of the cytoskeleton, but also acts as a motor protein which moves toward one specific end, the barbed end, driven by polymerization at the barbed end and depolymerization at the other end, the pointed end, without any associated proteins. This motor activity is referred to as “treadmilling” and it represents the simplest motor system known, consisting of only one 42 kDa protein, actin. Here we report the minimum requirements of the actin-like motor system elucidated by computer simulations: (1) Nucleotide binding and ATPase activity in the filament; (2) Polarity in the rates of polymerization and depolymerization between the two ends; and (3) The dependence of the subunit-subunit interactions on the bound nucleotide. These requirements are simple and this knowledge should facilitate the development of artificial molecular motor systems in the future.
actin; computer simulation; electron microscopy; motor; treadmilling
During animal development, microtubules (MTs) play a major role in directing cellular and subcellular patterning, impacting cell polarization and subcellular organization, thereby affecting cell fate determination and tissue architecture. In particular, when progenitor cells divide asymmetrically along an anterior-posterior or apical-basal axis, MTs must coordinate the position of the mitotic spindle with the site of cell division to ensure normal distribution of cell fate determinants and equal sequestration of genetic material into the two daughter cells. Emerging data from diverse model systems have led to the prevailing view that, during mitotic spindle positioning, polarity cues at the cell cortex signal for the recruitment of NuMA and the minus-end directed MT motor cytoplasmic dynein.1 The NuMA/dynein complex is believed to connect, in turn, to the mitotic spindle via astral MTs, thus aligning and tethering the spindle, but how this connection is achieved faithfully is unclear. Do astral MTs need to search for and then capture cortical NuMA/dynein? How does dynein capture the astral MTs emanating from the correct spindle pole? Recently, using the classical model of asymmetric cell division—budding yeast S. cerevisiae—we successfully demonstrated that astral MTs assume an active role in cortical dynein targeting, in that astral MTs utilize their distal plus ends to deliver dynein to the daughter cell cortex, the site where dynein activity is needed to perform its spindle alignment function. This observation introduced the novel idea that, during mitotic spindle orientation processes, polarity cues at the cell cortex may actually signal to prime the cortical receptors for MT-dependent dynein delivery. This model is consistent with the observation that dynein/dynactin accumulate prominently at the astral MT plus ends during metaphase in a wide range of cultured mammalian cells.
cytoplasmic dynein; dynein pathway; dynein targeting; spindle orientation
Early morphogenic movements are an important feature of embryonic development in vertebrates. During zebrafish gastrulation, epiboly progression is driven by the coordinated remodeling of the YSL microtubule network and F-actin cables. We recently described the implication of Nrz, an anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 homolog, in the control of the YSL cytoskeleton dynamics. Nrz knock-down induces premature actin-myosin ring formation leading to margin constriction, epiboly arrest and embryo lethality. At the molecular level, the Nrz protein controls the actin-myosin dynamics through IP3R-dependent calcium levels variation. Here, we discuss these novel findings and propose a model in which reversible phosphorylation of the Nrz/IP3R complex modulates the permeability of the IP3R calcium channel and thus may explain the Nrz-dependent control of IP3R opening required for proper epiboly completion.
Bcl-2; IP3R; Nrz; actin cytoskeleton; calcium; phosphorylation; zebrafish
In many tissues microtubules reorganize into non-centrosomal arrays in differentiated cells. In the epidermis, proliferative basal cells have a radial array of microtubules organized around a centrosome, while differentiated cells have cortical microtubules. The desmosomal protein desmoplakin is required for the microtubules to organize around the cell cortex. Furthermore, the centrosomal and/or microtubule-associated proteins ninein, Lis1, Ndel1, and CLIP170 are recruited to the cell cortex, where they have been implicated in the cortical organization of microtubules. Recently, it has been shown that in Lis1-null epidermis, microtubules are disorganized in the differentiated layers of the epidermis. Furthermore, Lis1-null mice die perinatally due to dehydration. This is due, in part, to the unexpected desmosome phenotype observed in Lis1-null skin. Upon loss of Lis1, desmosomal proteins become less stable. Here, we propose that Lis1 may regulate desmosomal stability through its binding partners Nde1/Ndel1 and dynein.
Lis1; desmoplakin; desmosome; epidermis; microtubule
In exocrine organs such as the salivary glands, fluids and proteins are secreted into ductal structures by distinct mechanisms that are tightly coupled. In the acinar cells, the major secretory units of the salivary glands, fluids are secreted into the acinar canaliculi through paracellular and intracellular transport, whereas proteins are stored in large granules that undergo exocytosis and fuse with the apical plasma membranes releasing their content into the canaliculi. Both secretory processes elicit a remodeling of the apical plasma membrane that has not been fully addressed in in vitro or ex vivo models. Recently, we have studied regulated exocytosis in the salivary glands of live rodents, focusing on the role that actin and myosin plays in this process. We observed that during exocytosis both secretory granules and canaliculi are subjected to the hydrostatic pressure generated by fluid secretion. Furthermore, the absorption of the membranes of the secretory granules contributes to the expansion and deformation of the canaliculi. Here we suggest that the homeostasis of the apical plasma membranes during exocytosis is maintained by various strategies that include: (1) membrane retrieval via compensatory endocytosis, (2) increase of the surface area via membrane folds and (3) recruitment of a functional actomyosin complex. Our observations underscore the important relationship between tissue architecture and cellular response, and highlight the potential of investigating biological processes in vivo by using intravital microscopy.
actin; cytoskeleton; exocrine glands; exocytosis; intravital microscopy; membrane tension; myosin; salivary glands; secretion
Cellular functions are intimately associated with rapid changes in membrane shape. Different mechanisms interfering with the lipid bilayer, such as the insertion of proteins with amphipatic helices or the association of a protein scaffold, trigger membrane bending. By exerting force on membranes, molecular motors can also contribute to membrane remodeling. Previous studies have shown that actin and myosin 1 participate in the invagination of the plasma membrane during endocytosis while kinesins and dynein with microtubules provide the force to elongate membrane buds at recycling endosomes and at the trans-Golgi network (TGN). Using live cell imaging we have recently shown that a myosin 1 (myosin 1b) regulates the actin dependent post-Golgi traffic of cargo and generates force that controls the assembly of F-actin foci and promotes with the actin cytoskeleton the formation of tubules at the TGN. Our data provide evidence that actin and myosin 1 can regulate membrane remodeling of organelles as well as having an unexpected role in the spatial organization of the actin cytoskeleton. Here, we discuss our results together with the role of actin and other myosins that have been implicated in the traffic of cargo.
Myosins; actin; membrane remodeling; membrane traffic; trans-Golgi network
Accurate segregation of genetic material into two daughter cells is essential for organism reproduction, development, and survival. The cell assembles a macromolecular structure called the mitotic spindle, which is composed of dynamic microtubules (MTs) and many associated proteins that assemble the spindle and drive the segregation of the chromosomes. Members of the kinesin superfamily of MT associated proteins use the energy of ATP hydrolysis to help organize the spindle, to transport cargo within the spindle, and to regulate spindle MT dynamics. The Kinesin-8 and Kinesin-13 families are involved in controlling mitotic spindle morphology, spindle positioning, and chromosome movement. While both kinesin families are MT destabilizing enzymes, it is unclear whether their mechanisms of MT destabilization are mechanistically similar or how they act to destabilize MTs. Recently, three groups identified an additional MT binding domain within the tail of Kinesin-8s that is essential for their roles in regulating MT dynamics and chromosome positioning.
depolymerase; kinesin-8; microtubule dynamics; mitosis; spindle assembly
Various microscopic techniques have been developed to understand the mechanisms that spatiotemporally control actin filament dynamics in live cells. Kinetic data on the processes of actin assembly and disassembly on F-actin have been accumulated. However, the kinetics of cytoplasmic G-actin, a key determinant for actin polymerization, has remained unclear because of a lack of appropriate methods to measure the G-actin concentration quantitatively. We have developed two new microscopic techniques based on the fluorescence decay after photoactivation (FDAP) time-lapse imaging of photoswitchable Dronpa-labeled actin. These techniques, sequential FDAP (s-FDAP) and multipoint FDAP, were used to measure the time-dependent changes in and spatial distribution of the G-actin concentration in live cells. Use of s-FDAP provided data on changes in the G-actin concentration with high temporal resolution; these data were useful for the model analysis of actin assembly processes in live cells. The s-FDAP analysis also provided evidence that the cytoplasmic G-actin concentration substantially decreases after cell stimulation and that the extent of stimulus-induced actin assembly and cell size extension are linearly correlated with the G-actin concentration before cell stimulation. The advantages of using s-FDAP and multipoint FDAP to measure spatiotemporal G-actin dynamics and the roles of G-actin concentration and ADF/cofilin in stimulus-induced actin assembly and lamellipodium extension in live cells are discussed.
Dronpa; G-actin; cell migration; lamellipodium; microscopic imaging; multipoint FDAP; photoactivation; sequential FDAP (s-FDAP)
Actin cytoskeleton dynamics lie at the heart of cell mechanosensing signaling. In fibroblast cells, two perinuclear acto-myosin structures, the actin cap and the transmembrane actin-associated nuclear (TAN) line, are components of a physical pathway transducing extracellular physical signals to changes in nuclear shape and movements. We recently demonstrated the existence of a previously uncharacterized third apical perinuclear actin organization in epithelial cells that forms during epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) mediated by TGFβ (TGFβ). A common regulatory mechanism for these different perinuclear actin architectures has emerged with the identification of a novel family of actin bundling proteins, the Refilins. Here we provide updates on some characteristics of Refilin proteins, and we discuss potential function of the Refilins in cell mechanosensing signaling.
EMT; Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition; FAM101A; FAM101B; Filamin; LINC complex; RefilinA; RefilinB; TAN lines; actin cap
Polar residues lying between adjacent α-helical chains of coiled-coils often contribute to coiled-coil curvature and flexibility, while more typical core hydrophobic residues anneal the chains together. In tropomyosins, ranging from smooth and skeletal muscle to cytoplasmic isoforms, a highly conserved Asp at residue 137 places negative charges within the tropomyosin coiled-coil core in a position which may affect the conformation needed for tropomyosin binding and regulatory movements on actin. Proteolytic susceptibility suggested that substituting a canonical Leu for the naturally occurring Asp at residue 137 increases inter-chain rigidity by stabilizing the tropomyosin coiled-coil. Using molecular dynamics, we now directly assess changes in coiled-coil curvature and flexibility caused by such mutants. Although the coiled-coil flexibility is modestly diminished near the residue 137 mutation site, as expected, a delocalized increase in flexibility along the overall coiled-coil is observed. Even though the average shape of the D137L tropomyosin is straighter than that of wild-type tropomyosin, it is still capable of binding actin due to this increase in flexibility. We conclude that the conserved, non-canonical Asp-137 destabilizes the local structure resulting in a local flexible region in the middle of tropomyosin that normally is important for tropomyosin steady-state equilibrium position on actin.
Coiled-coil; Flexibility; Molecular Dynamics; heptad repeat; tropomyosin