Article

Choosing orientation: influence of cargo geometry and ActA polarization on actin comet tails

Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
Molecular biology of the cell (Impact Factor: 5.98). 01/2012; 23(4):614-29. DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E11-06-0584
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Networks of polymerizing actin filaments can propel intracellular pathogens and drive movement of artificial particles in reconstituted systems. While biochemical mechanisms activating actin network assembly have been well characterized, it remains unclear how particle geometry and large-scale force balance affect emergent properties of movement. We reconstituted actin-based motility using ellipsoidal beads resembling the geometry of Listeria monocytogenes. Beads coated uniformly with the L. monocytogenes ActA protein migrated equally well in either of two distinct orientations, with their long axes parallel or perpendicular to the direction of motion, while intermediate orientations were unstable. When beads were coated with a fluid lipid bilayer rendering ActA laterally mobile, beads predominantly migrated with their long axes parallel to the direction of motion, mimicking the orientation of motile L. monocytogenes. Generating an accurate biophysical model to account for our observations required the combination of elastic-propulsion and tethered-ratchet actin-polymerization theories. Our results indicate that the characteristic orientation of L. monocytogenes must be due to polarized ActA rather than intrinsic actin network forces. Furthermore, viscoelastic stresses, forces, and torques produced by individual actin filaments and lateral movement of molecular complexes must all be incorporated to correctly predict large-scale behavior in the actin-based movement of nonspherical particles.

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