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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1994;27(4):327-36.

Two-step mechanism for actin polymerization in human erythroleukemia cells induced by phorbol ester.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6058.

Erratum in

  • Cell Motil Cytoskeleton 1994;28(4):359.


Human erythroleukemia (HEL) cells grow in suspension, but after treatment with nM PMA the cells adhere and spread on glass or fibronectin [Jarvinen et al., 1987: Eur. J. Cell Biol. 44:238-246]. We observed an early (20-30 min) stage of spreading in which F-actin was organized into peripheral arcs near the spreading margin and vinculin was localised to the cell's periphery at the ends of these arcs. By 1 h the cells were well spread with straight actin bundles many of which ended at more central sites terminating on patches containing vinculin and talin; thus the cells assemble typical stress fibers but do not appear to polarize. The cells also spread on RGD polymer. DiC8 (1,2-dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol, C8:0, Sigma Chemical Co., St. Louis, MO) induced spreading but only if DAG kinase inhibitor and A-23187 were also present; in their absence cells adhered but did not spread. Spreading was approximately 85% inhibited by 100 nM staurosporine. PKC-beta was shown to be present in the cells by immunoblotting. In cells spread for 1 h with PMA, F-actin increased to 180% of control levels as measured by RP binding and the actin sequestering complex of G-actin-thymosin beta 4 decreased significantly. To determine whether the F-actin increase required adhesion, we inhibited cell attachment to the substratum by adding RGDS, by coating glass surfaces with hemoglobin, or by a combined treatment. Under these conditions PMA-treated suspended cells still increased their F-actin to 126-137% of controls, a significant increase over control levels. Staurosporine inhibited F-actin increases under all the conditions studied. Permeabilized cell suspensions, incubated with rhodamine labelled G-actin, incorporated the labelled actin along cell membranes at a low level. A few minutes preincubation with either diC8 plus DAG kinase inhibitor or with PMA strongly increased the incorporation. This increased incorporation was reduced to below control levels by either staurosporine (100 nM) or cytochalasin D (1 microM). We conclude that both suspended and spreading HEL cells can be stimulated to polymerize actin by a mechanism dependent on PKC or a PKC-like molecule. In suspended cells, the polymerization occurs along the membrane. When cells spread, F-actin increased to a significantly greater extent. This second step could involve additional polymerization, perhaps at the observed adhesion sites, decreased turnover of the actin bundles, or a combined effect of both mechanisms.

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