Actin-based protein filaments participate in biological activities ranging from cell migration to muscle contraction. These filaments can be highly dynamic, with individual actin molecules spontaneously attaching to or dissociating from the ends of the fiber. Typically, however, such activity is closely regulated by factors like actin capping protein (CP).
Filaments exhibit physical polarity, with extension specifically occurring at the ‘barbed’ end, and CP inhibits addition of new actin molecules by firmly seating itself at this end. CP is widely conserved in species ranging from yeast to humans and acts a crucial regulator for a variety of actin-mediated cellular functions.
Accordingly, cells also produce factors that help remove CP from filament ends, such as the V-1 and CARMIL proteins. Yasushi Nitanai at the RIKEN SPring-8 Center in Harima recently partnered with Nagoya University researchers Shuichi Takeda and Yuichiro Maeda to characterize the mechanisms employed by these two CP regulators via structural analysis1.
CP is composed of an á and a â subunit, each of which has a projecting ‘tentacle’ domain. Previous work from Takeda and Maeda showed that CP relies on the á tentacle to latch onto actin while the â tentacle stabilizes the complex2. Their work with Nitanai has now demonstrated that V-1 acts as a direct counter to this process, binding the same portions of the á tentacle that mediate actin binding and thereby physically preventing them from associating with the filament.
Takeda and colleagues identified a markedly different mechanism for CARMIL, based on data that revealed a surprisingly dynamic structure for CP. “We had believed that CP was a rigid molecule, and never imagined that it was an intrinsically flexible molecule, continuously undergoing twisting motions,” says Takeda. CARMIL appears to actively exploit this flexibility, interacting with CP via a relatively unstructured domain. This association does not physically obstruct actin binding, but instead constrains CP into an arrangement that reduces its affinity for both the barbed end of actin filaments and the V-1 inhibitor.
The team’s results are in keeping with previous findings indicating that CARMIL can bind to CP that is already bound to filament ends and triggers its rapid dissociation. “We were impressed with the way that CARMIL utilizes the intrinsic fluctuation of CP to suppress capping activity,” says Takeda. In future studies, he and his colleagues hope to apply alternative structural biology techniques, such as nuclear magnetic resonance, to better capture the subtle details of the dynamic interactions between CARMIL, V-1 and CP.
2. 2.Narita, A., Takeda, S., Yamashita, A. & Maeda, Y. Structural basis of actin filament capping at the barbed-end: a cryo-electron microscopy study. The EMBO Journal 25, 5626–5633 (2006).
gro-pr | Research asia research news
Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University
Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.
Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
23.01.2018 | Life Sciences
23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy