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Curr Biol. 2002 Oct 29;12(21):1858-63.

GTP binding induces filament assembly of a recombinant septin.

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Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Dr Bohr-Gasse 7, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.


The septins are a family of GTPases involved in cytokinesis in budding yeast, Drosophila, and vertebrates (see for review). Septins are associated with a system of 10 nm filaments at the S. cerevisiae bud neck, and heteromultimeric septin complexes have been isolated from cell extracts in a filamentous state. A number of septins have been shown to bind and hydrolyze guanine nucleotide. However, the role of GTP binding and hydrolysis in filament formation has not been elucidated. Furthermore, several lines of evidence suggest that not all the subunits of the septin complex are required for all aspects of septin function. To address these questions, we have reconstituted filament assembly in vitro by using a recombinant Xenopus septin, Xl Sept2. Filament assembly is GTP dependent; moreover, the coiled-coil domain common to most septins is not essential for filament formation. Septin polymerization is preceded by a lag phase, suggesting a cooperative assembly mechanism. The slowly hydrolyzable GTP analog, GTP-gamma-S, also induces polymerization, indicating that polymerization does not require GTP hydrolysis. If the properties of Xl Sept2 filaments reflect those of native septin complexes, these results imply that the growth or stability of septin filaments, or both, is regulated by the state of bound nucleotide.

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