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Adv Biophys. 1990;26:51-73.

Actin polymerization and ATP hydrolysis.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laboratoire d'Enzymologie, Gif sur Yvette, France.


This paper surveys several aspects of the consequences of ATP hydrolysis associated with actin polymerization, and their physiological implications. ATP hydrolysis occurs on F-actin in two subsequent reactions, cleavage of ATP followed by the slower release of Pi. The latter reaction is linked to a conformation change of the actin subunit that causes a destabilization of the actin-actin interactions in the filament, i.e., a structural change of the filament. The nature of the nucleotide bound to terminal subunits therefore affects the dynamics of actin filaments. It is shown that this regulation is different at the two ends, terminal F-ADP-Pi subunits being present at steady state at the barbed end, while F-ADP-subunits are present at the pointed end. While cleavage of ATP on F-actin is irreversible, Pi release is reversible, which allows the regulation of filament dynamics by cellular Pi. The nature of the divalent metal ion--Ca2+ or Mg2(+)--tightly bound to actin, in direct interaction with ATP, also affects the conformation of actin and the rate of ATP hydrolysis, therefore regulating actin dynamics. Finally, the rate of nucleotide exchange on G-actin is relatively slow, which allows the critical concentration to increase with the number of filaments in ATP, a property largely used by the cell via the action of severing proteins.

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