The mouse formin, FRLalpha, slows actin filament barbed end elongation, competes with capping protein, accelerates polymerization from monomers, and severs filaments

Elizabeth S Harris, Fang Li, Henry N Higgs
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2004 May 7, 279 (19): 20076-87
Formins are a conserved class of proteins expressed in all eukaryotes, with known roles in generating cellular actin-based structures. The mammalian formin, FRLalpha, is enriched in hematopoietic cells and tissues, but its biochemical properties have not been characterized. We show that a construct composed of the C-terminal half of FRLalpha (FRLalpha-C) is a dimer and has multiple effects on muscle actin, including tight binding to actin filament sides, partial inhibition of barbed end elongation, inhibition of barbed end binding by capping protein, acceleration of polymerization from monomers, and actin filament severing. These multiple activities can be explained by a model in which FRLalpha-C binds filament sides but prefers the topology of sides at the barbed end (end-sides) to those within the filament. This preference allows FRLalpha-C to nucleate new filaments by side stabilization of dimers, processively advance with the elongating barbed end, block interaction between C-terminal tentacles of capping protein and filament end-sides, and sever filaments by preventing subunit re-association as filaments bend. Another formin, mDia1, does not reduce the barbed end elongation rate but does block capping protein, further supporting an end-side binding model for formins. Profilin partially relieves barbed end elongation inhibition by FRLalpha-C. When non-muscle actin is used, FRLalpha-C's effects are largely similar. FRLalpha-C's ability to sever filaments is the first such activity reported for any formin. Because we find that mDia1-C does not sever efficiently, severing may not be a property of all formins.

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