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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Nov 7;97(23):12631-6.

Two tandem verprolin homology domains are necessary for a strong activation of Arp2/3 complex-induced actin polymerization and induction of microspike formation by N-WASP.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


All WASP family proteins share a common C terminus that consists of the verprolin homology domain (V), cofilin homology domain (C), and acidic region (A), through which they activate Arp2/3 complex-induced actin polymerization. In this study, we characterized the Arp2/3 complex-mediated actin polymerization activity of VCA fragments of all of the WASP family proteins: WASP, N-WASP, WAVE1, WAVE2, and WAVE3. All of the VCA fragments stimulated the nucleating activity of Arp2/3 complex. Among them, N-WASP VCA, which possesses two tandem V motifs, had a more potent activity than other VCA proteins. The chimeric protein experiments revealed that the V motif was more important to the activation potency than the CA region; two V motifs were required for full activity of N-WASP. COS7 cells overexpressing N-WASP form microspikes in response to epidermal growth factor. However, when a chimeric protein in which the VCA region of N-WASP is replaced with WAVE1 VCA was overexpressed, microspike formation was suppressed. Interestingly, when the N-WASP VCA region was replaced with WAVE1 VCA, having two V motifs, this chimeric protein could induce microspike formation. These results indicate that strong activation of Arp2/3 complex by N-WASP is mainly caused by its two tandem V motifs, which are essential for actin microspike formation.

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