Capping protein terminates but does not initiate chemoattractant- induced actin assembly in Dictyostelium

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The first step in the directed movement of cells toward a chemotactic source involves the extension of pseudopods initiated by the focal nucleation and polymerization of actin at the leading edge of the cell. We have previously isolated a chemoattractant-regulated barbed-end capping activity from Dictyostelium that is uniquely associated with capping protein, also known as cap32/34. Although uncapping of barbed ends by capping protein has been proposed as a mechanism for the generation of free barbed ends after stimulation, in vitro and in situ analysis of the association of capping protein with the actin cytoskeleton after stimulation reveals that capping protein enters, but does not exit, the cytoskeleton during the initiation of actin polymerization. Increased association of capping protein with regions of the cell containing free barbed ends as visualized by exogenous rhodamine- labeled G-actin is also observed after stimulation. An approximate three- fold increase in the number of filaments with free barbed ends is accompanied by increases in absolute filament number, whereas the average filament length remains constant. Therefore, a mechanism in which preexisting filaments are uncapped by capping protein, in response to stimulation leading to the generation of free barbed ends and filament elongation, is not supported. A model for actin assembly after stimulation, whereby free barbed ends are generated by either filament severing or de novo nucleation is proposed. In this model, exposure of free barbed ends results in actin assembly, followed by entry of free capping protein into the actin cytoskeleton, which acts to terminate, not initiate, the actin polymerization transient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1243-1253
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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