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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39774. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039774. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Actin polymerization controls the organization of WASH domains at the surface of endosomes.

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Laboratoire d'Enzymologie et Biochimie Structurales, CNRS UPR3082, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


Sorting of cargoes in endosomes occurs through their selective enrichment into sorting platforms, where transport intermediates are generated. The WASH complex, which directly binds to lipids, activates the Arp2/3 complex and hence actin polymerization onto such sorting platforms. Here, we analyzed the role of actin polymerization in the physiology of endosomal domains containing WASH using quantitative image analysis. Actin depolymerization is known to enlarge endosomes. Using a novel colocalization method that is insensitive to the heterogeneity of size and shape of endosomes, we further show that preventing the generation of branched actin networks induces endosomal accumulation of the WASH complex. Moreover, we found that actin depolymerization induces a dramatic decrease in the recovery of endosomal WASH after photobleaching. This result suggests a built-in turnover, where the actin network, i.e. the product of the WASH complex, contributes to the dynamic exchange of the WASH complex by promoting its detachment from endosomes. Our experiments also provide evidence for a role of actin polymerization in the lateral compartmentalization of endosomes: several WASH domains exist at the surface of enlarged endosomes, however, the WASH domains coalesce upon actin depolymerization or Arp2/3 depletion. Branched actin networks are thus involved in the regulation of the size of WASH domains. The potential role of this regulation in membrane scission are discussed.

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