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Nat Cell Biol. 2002 Sep;4(9):666-73.

Microscopic analysis of polymerization dynamics with individual actin filaments.

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Department of Physics, School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University, 3-4-1 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8555, Japan.


The polymerization-depolymerization dynamics of actin is a key process in a variety of cellular functions. Many spectroscopic studies have been performed in solution, but studies on single actin filaments have just begun. Here, we show that the time course of polymerization of individual filaments consists of a polymerization phase and a subsequent steady-state phase. During the steady-state phase, a treadmilling process of elongation at the barbed end and shortening at the pointed end occurs, in which both components of the process proceed at approximately the same rate. The time correlation of length fluctuation of the filaments in the steady-state phase showed that the polymerization-depolymerization dynamics follow a diffusion (stochastic) process, which cannot be explained by simple association and dissociation of monomers at both ends of the filaments.

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