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J Cell Sci. 1996 Jul;109 ( Pt 7):1825-35.

Structure/function studies on the pH-dependent actin-binding protein hisactophilin in Dictyostelium mutants.

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Adolf-Butenandt-Institut/Zellbiologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, Germany.


Our previous studies have shown that the actin-binding protein hisactophilin from Dictyostelium discoideum is a candidate for organizing the actin cytoskeleton at the plasma membrane in a pH-dependent manner. To further characterize this interaction we isolated hisactophilin overexpression (hisII+) and hisactophilin minus (his-) mutants. D. discoideum contains two hisactophilin isoforms; both genes are independently transcribed and carry a short intron at the same position of the coding region. The deduced amino acid sequence of hisactophilin II showed a characteristic high content of 35 histidine residues out of a total 118 amino acids. After transformation of Dictyostelium AX2 wild-type cells with a genomic fragment designed to inactivate the hisactophilin I gene we obtained hisactophilin II overexpressing mutants (hisII+). Multiple integration of the vector led to strong overexpression of hisactophilin II which even outnumbered the actin concentration by a factor of two. Hisactophilin II protein showed the same biochemical properties as hisactophilin I during purification and in its pH-dependent binding to F-actin; as shown by mass spectrometry the hisactophilin II fraction was almost completely myristoylated despite of this high overexpression. The inactivation of both hisactophilin genes was achieved by gene replacement with a vector construct encompassing parts of gene I and gene II connected by a geneticin cassette. The properties of the hisII+ and his- cells with regard to growth in shaking culture and on Klebsiella plates, development, chemotaxis and morphology were not affected under normal conditions. However, the hisII+ transformants revealed a significant difference to wild-type cells and his- cells when the cytoplasmic pH was lowered by diethylstilbestrol (DES), a proton pump inhibitor. HisII+ cells were more resistant to the acidification; in contrast to AX2 wild-type cells and his- cells they did not form plasma membrane protrusions, showed an increase in F-actin content, and contained large clusters of F-actin. Lowering the internal pH caused an accumulation of hisactophilin below the plasma membrane. The fact that cells deficient in hisactophilin again lose resistance to acidification is in good agreement with the hypothesis that hisactophilin functions as a pH sensor at the plasma membrane by reversibly connecting the membrane with the actin cortical network upon local changes of the proton concentration.

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