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Biophys Chem. 2011 Apr;155(1):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.bpc.2011.02.008. Epub 2011 Feb 26.

Polycation induced actin bundles.

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Institute of Dental Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.


Three polycations, polylysine, the polyamine spermine and the polycationic protein lysozyme were used to study the formation, structure, ionic strength sensitivity and dissociation of polycation-induced actin bundles. Bundles form fast, simultaneously with the polymerization of MgATP-G-actins, upon the addition of polycations to solutions of actins at low ionic strength conditions. This indicates that nuclei and/or nascent filaments bundle due to attractive, electrostatic effect of polycations and the neutralization of repulsive interactions of negative charges on actin. The attractive forces between the filaments are strong, as shown by the low (in nanomolar range) critical concentration of their bundling at low ionic strength. These bundles are sensitive to ionic strength and disassemble partially in 100 mM NaCl, but both the dissociation and ionic strength sensitivity can be countered by higher polycation concentrations. Cys374 residues of actin monomers residing on neighboring filaments in the bundles can be cross-linked by the short span (5.4Å) MTS-1 (1,1-methanedyl bismethanethiosulfonate) cross-linker, which indicates a tight packing of filaments in the bundles. The interfilament cross-links, which connect monomers located on oppositely oriented filaments, prevent disassembly of bundles at high ionic strength. Cofilin and the polysaccharide polyanion heparin disassemble lysozyme induced actin bundles more effectively than the polylysine-induced bundles. The actin-lysozyme bundles are pathologically significant as both proteins are found in the pulmonary airways of cystic fibrosis patients. Their bundles contribute to the formation of viscous mucus, which is the main cause of breathing difficulties and eventual death in this disorder.

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