Modulation of actin mechanics by caldesmon and tropomyosin

M. J. Greenberg, C. L.A. Wang, W. Lehman, Jeffrey R. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ability of cells to sense and respond to physiological forces relies on the actin cytoskeleton, a dynamic structure that can directly convert forces into biochemical signals. Because of the association of muscle actin-binding proteins (ABPs) may affect F-actin and hence cytoskeleton mechanics, we investigated the effects of several ABPs on the mechanical properties of the actin filaments. The structural interactions between ABPs and helical actin filaments can vary between interstrand interactions that bridge azimuthally adjacent actin monomers between filament strands (i.e. by molecular stapling as proposed for caldesmon) or, intrastrand interactions that reinforce axially adjacent actin monomers along strands (i.e. as in the interaction of tropomyosin with actin). Here, we analyzed thermally driven fluctuations in actin's shape to measure the flexural rigidity of actin filaments with different ABPs bound. We show that the binding of phalloidin increases the persistence length of actin by 1.9-fold. Similarly, the intrastrand reinforcement by smooth and skeletal muscle tropomyosins increases the persistence length 1.5-and 2- fold respectively. We also show that the interstrand crosslinking by the C-terminal actin-binding fragment of caldesmon, H32K, increases persistence length by 1.6-fold. While still remaining bound to actin, phosphorylation of H32K by ERK abolishes the molecular staple (Foster et al. 2004. J Biol Chem 279:53387-53394) and reduces filament rigidity to that of actin with no ABPs bound. Lastly, we show that the effect of binding both smooth muscle tropomyosin and H32K is not additive. The combination of structural and mechanical studies on ABP-actin interactions will help provide information about the biophysical mechanism of force transduction in cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Volume65
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Keywords

  • Actin-binding proteins
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Filament mechanics
  • Flexural rigidity
  • Persistence length

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