Mutations to the formin homology 2 domain of INF2 protein have unexpected effects on actin polymerization and severing

Vinay Ramabhadran, Pinar S Gurel, Henry N Higgs
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2012 October 5, 287 (41): 34234-45
INF2 (inverted formin 2) is a formin protein with unusual biochemical characteristics. As with other formins, the formin homology 2 (FH2) domain of INF2 accelerates actin filament assembly and remains at the barbed end, modulating elongation. The unique feature of INF2 is its ability to sever filaments and enhance depolymerization, which requires the C-terminal region. Physiologically, INF2 acts in the secretory pathway and is mutated in two human diseases, focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. In this study, we investigate the effects of mutating two FH2 residues found to be key in other formins: Ile-643 and Lys-792. Surprisingly, neither mutation abolishes barbed end binding, as judged by pyrene-actin and total internal reflection (TIRF) microscopy elongation assays. The I643A mutation causes tight capping of a subset of filaments, whereas K792A causes slow elongation of all filaments. The I643A mutation has a minor inhibitory effect on polymerization activity but causes almost complete abolition of severing and depolymerization activity. The K792A mutation has relatively small effects on polymerization, severing, and depolymerization. In cells, the K792A mutant causes actin accumulation around the endoplasmic reticulum to a similar extent as wild type, whereas the I643A mutant causes no measurable polymerization. The inability of I643A to induce actin polymerization in cells is explained by its inability to promote robust actin polymerization in the presence of capping protein. These results highlight an important point: it is dangerous to assume that mutation of conserved FH2 residues will have equivalent effects in all formins. The work also suggests that both mutations have effects on the mechanism of processive elongation.

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