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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jun 16;106(24):9703-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900221106. Epub 2009 Jun 3.

Gamma-actin is required for cytoskeletal maintenance but not development.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders/National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.


Beta(cyto)-actin and gamma(cyto)-actin are ubiquitous proteins thought to be essential building blocks of the cytoskeleton in all non-muscle cells. Despite this widely held supposition, we show that gamma(cyto)-actin null mice (Actg1(-/-)) are viable. However, they suffer increased mortality and show progressive hearing loss during adulthood despite compensatory up-regulation of beta(cyto)-actin. The surprising viability and normal hearing of young Actg1(-/-) mice means that beta(cyto)-actin can likely build all essential non-muscle actin-based cytoskeletal structures including mechanosensory stereocilia of hair cells that are necessary for hearing. Although gamma(cyto)-actin-deficient stereocilia form normally, we found that they cannot maintain the integrity of the stereocilia actin core. In the wild-type, gamma(cyto)-actin localizes along the length of stereocilia but re-distributes to sites of F-actin core disruptions resulting from animal exposure to damaging noise. In Actg1(-/-) stereocilia similar disruptions are observed even without noise exposure. We conclude that gamma(cyto)-actin is required for reinforcement and long-term stability of F-actin-based structures but is not an essential building block of the developing cytoskeleton.

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