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EMBO J. 1996 Jan 15;15(2):201-10.

The actin binding site of thymosin beta 4 mapped by mutational analysis.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Ghent, Belgium.


We characterized in detail the actin binding site of the small actin-sequestering protein thymosin beta 4 (T beta 4) using chemically synthesized full-length T beta 4 variants. The N-terminal part (residues 1-16) and a hexapeptide motif (residues 17-22) form separate structural entities. In both, we identified charged and hydrophobic residues that participate in the actin interaction using chemical cross-linking, complex formation in native gels and actin-sequestering experiments. Quantitative data on the activity of the variants and circular dichroism experiments allow to present a model in which the N-terminal part needs to adopt an alpha-helix for actin binding and interacts through a patch of hydrophobic residues (6M-I-F12) on one side of this helix. Also, electrostatic contacts between actin and lysine residues 18, in the motif, and 14, in the N-terminal alpha-helix, appear important for binding. The residues critical for contacting actin are conserved throughout the beta-thymosin family and in addition to this we identify a similar pattern in the C-terminal headpiece of villin and dematin.

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