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Biochemistry. 2007 Jul 10;46(27):8146-55. Epub 2007 Jun 15.

Tropomyosin regulates elongation by formin at the fast-growing end of the actin filament.

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Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


The balance between dynamic and stable actin filaments is essential for the regulation of cellular functions including the determination of cell shape and polarity, cell migration, and cytokinesis. Proteins that regulate polymerization at the filament ends and filament stability confer specificity to actin filament structure and cellular function. The dynamics of the barbed, fast-growing end of the filament are controlled in space and time by both positive and negative regulators of actin polymerization. Capping proteins inhibit the addition and loss of subunits, whereas other proteins, including formins, bind at the barbed end and allow filament growth. In this work, we show that tropomyosin regulates dynamics at the barbed end. Tropomyosin binds to constructs of FRL1 and mDia2 that contain the FH2 domain and modulates formin-dependent capping of the barbed end by relieving inhibition of elongation by FRL1-FH1FH2, mDia1-FH2, and mDia2-FH2 in an isoform-dependent fashion. In this role, tropomyosin functions as an activator of formin. Tropomyosin also inhibits the binding of FRL1-FH1FH2 to the sides of actin filaments independent of the isoform. In contrast, tropomyosin does not affect the ability of capping protein to block the barbed end. We suggest that tropomyosin and formin act together to ensure the formation of unbranched actin filaments, protected from severing, that could be capped in stable cellular structures. This role, in addition to its cooperative control of myosin function, establishes tropomyosin as a universal regulator of the multifaceted actin cytoskeleton.

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