The C terminus of formin FMNL3 accelerates actin polymerization and contains a WH2 domain-like sequence that binds both monomers and filament barbed ends

Ernest G Heimsath, Henry N Higgs
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2012 January 27, 287 (5): 3087-98
Formin proteins are actin assembly factors that accelerate filament nucleation then remain on the elongating barbed end and modulate filament elongation. The formin homology 2 (FH2) domain is central to these activities, but recent work has suggested that additional sequences enhance FH2 domain function. Here we show that the C-terminal 76 amino acids of the formin FMNL3 have a dramatic effect on the ability of the FH2 domain to accelerate actin assembly. This C-terminal region contains a WASp homology 2 (WH2)-like sequence that binds actin monomers in a manner that is competitive with other WH2 domains and with profilin. In addition, the C terminus binds filament barbed ends. As a monomer, the FMNL3 C terminus inhibits actin polymerization and slows barbed end elongation with moderate affinity. As a dimer, the C terminus accelerates actin polymerization from monomers and displays high affinity inhibition of barbed end elongation. These properties are not common to all formin C termini, as those of mDia1 and INF2 do not behave similarly. Interestingly, mutation of two aliphatic residues, which blocks high affinity actin binding by the WH2-like sequence, has no effect on the ability of the C terminus to enhance FH2-mediated polymerization. However, mutation of three successive basic residues at the C terminus of the WH2-like sequence compromises polymerization enhancement. These results illustrate that the C termini of formins are highly diverse in their interactions with actin.

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