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J Biol Chem. 1995 Feb 24;270(8):3463-6.

Swinholide A is a microfilament disrupting marine toxin that stabilizes actin dimers and severs actin filaments.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cell Biology, NHLBI, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Swinholide A, isolated from the marien sponge Theonella swinhoei, is a 44-carbon ring dimeric dilactone macrolide with a 2-fold axis of symmetry. Recent studies have elucidated its unusual structure and shown that it has potent cytotoxic activity. We now report that swinholide A disrupts the actin cytoskeleton of cells grown in culture, sequesters actin dimers in vitro in both polymerizing and non-polymerizing buffers with a binding stoichiometry of one swinholide A molecule per actin dimer, and rapidly severs F-actin in vitro with high cooperativity. These unique properties are sufficient to explain the cytotoxicity of swinholide A. They also suggest that swinholide A might be a model for studies of the mechanism of action of F-actin severing proteins and be therapeutically useful in conditions where filamentous actin contributes to pathologically high viscosities.

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