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Eur J Cell Biol. 1998 Oct;77(2):81-90.

The suitability and application of a GFP-actin fusion protein for long-term imaging of the organization and dynamics of the cytoskeleton in mammalian cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany.


The product of a GFP-actin gene fusion, permanently or transiently transfected in diverse mammalian cell lines, was shown to be a suitable, intrinsic probe of both the organization and dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton. In live Swiss 3T3 and NIH 3T3 cells, the fusion protein was found to accumulate in lamellipodia, filopodia, focal contacts and stress fibers. Furthermore, comparisons of fluorescence images of GFP-actin and Cy3.5-phalloidin, an independent marker of F-actin, in permeabilized cells showed a complete overlap of the two fluorescence signals. In GFP-actin-transfected Hela cells that had been infected with Listeria monocytogenes, the fluorescence of the fusion protein was shown to dynamically associate in the F-actin rich comet tail that formed behind a motile bacterium. In stable transfectants of PC12 cells, GFP-actin constituted on the average 5% of the total actin - these cells exhibited normal growth behavior and responded to treatment with nerve growth factor by extending neurite-like extensions, the filopodia-like tips of which were densely packed with filamentous GFP-actin. Finally, the photobleaching decay time of GFP-actin in live cells of 63 seconds was much longer than that of fluorescein-labeled actin conjugates and little or no damage to the cytoskeleton was found during the photobleaching of GFP-actin. Having shown the suitability of GFP-actin as a probe of the cytoskeleton, its fluorescence was used in long-term imaging studies aimed at documenting changes in the cytoskeleton of rat bladder NBT-II carcinoma cells during the 24-hour growth factor-mediated epithelia to mesenchyme transformation. The intrinsic fluorescent probe was also used to investigate the organization of the actin cytoskeleton and behavior of individual mesenchyme NBT-II cells slowly migrating through a colony of epithelia cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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