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Trends Biochem Sci. 2004 Nov;29(11):572-8.

Actin-binding proteins--a unifying hypothesis.

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Boston Biomedical Research Institute, 64 Grove Street, Watertown, MA 02472, USA.


Actin participates in more protein-protein interactions than any other known protein, including the interaction of actin with itself to form the helical polymer F-actin. The vast majority of actin-binding proteins (ABPs) can be grouped into conserved families. Only a handful of structures of complexes of actin with ABPs have been determined so far. These structures are starting to reveal how certain ABPs, including gelsolin, vitamin D-binding protein and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP)-homology domain-2-related proteins, share a common actin-binding motif. It is proposed here that other ABPs, including actin itself, might share this motif, providing a mechanism whereby ABPs and actin compete for a common binding site. Of particular interest is a hydrophobic pocket that mediates important interactions in five of the existing structures of actin complexes. As the pocket remains accessible in F-actin, it is proposed that this pocket represents a primary target for F-actin-binding proteins, such as calponin-homology-related proteins and myosin.

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