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J Biol Chem. 2007 Oct 19;282(42):30466-75. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Stimulation of actin polymerization by vacuoles via Cdc42p-dependent signaling.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H7, Canada.


We have previously shown that actin ligands inhibit the fusion of yeast vacuoles in vitro, which suggests that actin remodeling is a subreaction of membrane fusion. Here, we demonstrate the presence of vacuole-associated actin polymerization activity, and its dependence on Cdc42p and Vrp1p. Using a sensitive in vitro pyrene-actin polymerization assay, we found that vacuole membranes stimulated polymerization, and this activity increased when vacuoles were preincubated under conditions that support membrane fusion. Vacuoles purified from a VRP1-gene deletion strain showed reduced polymerization activity, which could be recovered when reconstituted with excess Vrp1p. Cdc42p regulates this activity because overexpression of dominant-negative Cdc42p significantly reduced vacuole-associated polymerization activity, while dominant-active Cdc42p increased activity. We also used size-exclusion chromatography to directly examine changes in yeast actin induced by vacuole fusion. This assay confirmed that actin undergoes polymerization in a process requiring ATP. To further confirm the need for actin polymerization during vacuole fusion, an actin polymerization-deficient mutant strain was examined. This strain showed in vivo defects in vacuole fusion, and actin purified from this strain inhibited in vitro vacuole fusion. Affinity isolation of vacuole-associated actin and in vitro binding assays revealed a polymerization-dependent interaction between actin and the SNARE Ykt6p. Our results suggest that actin polymerization is a subreaction of vacuole membrane fusion governed by Cdc42p signal transduction.

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