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J Biol Chem. 2010 Mar 26;285(13):9729-39. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.073452. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Mutation of actin Tyr-53 alters the conformations of the DNase I-binding loop and the nucleotide-binding cleft.

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Laboratory of Cell Biology, NHLBI, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


All but 11 of the 323 known actin sequences have Tyr at position 53, and the 11 exceptions have the conservative substitution Phe, which raises the following questions. What is the critical role(s) of Tyr-53, and, if it can be replaced by Phe, why has this happened so infrequently? We compared the properties of purified endogenous Dictyostelium actin and mutant constructs with Tyr-53 replaced by Phe, Ala, Glu, Trp, and Leu. The Y53F mutant did not differ significantly from endogenous actin in any of the properties assayed, but the Y53A and Y53E mutants differed substantially; affinity for DNase I was reduced, the rate of nucleotide exchange was increased, the critical concentration for polymerization was increased, filament elongation was inhibited, and polymerized actin was in the form of small oligomers and imperfect filaments. Growth and/or development of cells expressing these actin mutants were also inhibited. The Trp and Leu mutations had lesser but still significant effects on cell phenotype and the biochemical properties of the purified actins. We conclude that either Tyr or Phe is required to maintain the functional conformations of the DNase I-binding loop (D-loop) in both G- and F-actin, and that the conformation of the D-loop affects not only the properties that directly involve the D-loop (binding to DNase I and polymerization) but also allosterically modifies the conformation of the nucleotide-binding cleft, thus increasing the rate of nucleotide exchange. The apparent evolutionary "preference" for Tyr at position 53 may be the result of Tyr allowing dynamic modification of the D-loop conformation by phosphorylation (Baek, K., Liu, X., Ferron, F., Shu, S., Korn, E. D., and Dominguez, R. (2008) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105, 11748-11753) with effects similar, but not identical, to those of the Ala and Glu mutations.

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