Understanding the role of the G-actin-binding domain of Ena/VASP in actin assembly

Boston Biomedical Research Institute, 64 Grove Street, Watertown, MA 02472, USA.
Journal of Structural Biology (Impact Factor: 3.23). 09/2006; 155(2):195-201. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsb.2006.01.012
Source: PubMed


The Ena/VASP and WASP family of proteins play distinct roles in actin cytoskeleton remodeling. Ena/VASP is linked to actin filament elongation, whereas WASP plays a role in filament nucleation and branching mediated by Arp2/3 complex. The molecular mechanisms controlling both processes are only emerging. Both Ena/VASP and WASP are multidomain proteins. They both present poly-Pro regions, which mediate the binding of profilin-actin, followed by G-actin-binding (GAB) domains of the WASP-homology 2 (WH2) type. However, the WH2 of Ena/VASP is somewhat different from that of WASP, and has been poorly characterized. Here we demonstrate that this WH2 binds profilin-actin with higher affinity than actin alone. The results are consistent with a model whereby allosteric modulation of affinity drives the transition of profilin-actin from the poly-Pro region to the WH2 and then to the barbed end of the filament during elongation. Therefore, the function of the WH2 in Ena/VASP appears to be to "process" profilin-actin for its incorporation at the barbed end of the growing filament. Conformational changes in the newly incorporated actin subunit, resulting either from nucleotide hydrolysis or from the G- to F-actin transition, may serve as a "sensor" for the processive stepping of Ena/VASP. Conserved domain architecture suggests that WASP may work similarly.

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    • "VASP is known to regulate actin filament assembly and gathering and thereby to participate in various cell behaviors related to the actin cytoskeleton, such as adhesion, contraction and motility22,23,24,25. To study the direct effect of matrine on VASP, the expression plasmid pET28a-VASP, which encodes the full-length human VASP, was constructed. "
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    ABSTRACT: Aim: Vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) expression is upregulated in human cancers and correlates with more invasive advanced tumor stages. The aim of this study was to elucidate the mechanisms by which matrine, an alkaloid derived from Sophora species plants, acted on the VASP protein in human gastric cancer cells in vitro. Methods: VASP was expressed and purified. Intrinsic fluorescence spectroscopy was used to study the binding of matrine to VASP. CD spectroscopy was used to examine the changes in the VASP protein secondary structure. Human gastric carcinoma cell line BGC823 was tested. Scratch wound and cell adhesion assays were used to detect the cell migration and adhesion, respectively. Real-time PCR and Western blotting assays were used to measure mRNA and protein expression of VASP. Results: In the fluorescence assay, the dissociation constant for binding of matrine to VASP protein was 0.86 mmol/L, thus the direct binding between the two molecules was weak. However, matrine (50 μg/mL) caused obvious change in the secondary structure of VASP protein shown in CD spectrum. Treatments of BGC823 cells with matrine (50 μg/mL) significantly inhibited the cell migration and adhesion. The alkaloid changed the subcellular distribution of VASP and formation of actin stress fibers in BGC823 cells. The alkaloid caused small but statistically significant decreases in VASP protein expression and phosphorylation, but had no significant effect on VASP mRNA expression. Conclusion: Matrine modulates the structure, subcellular distribution, expression and phosphorylation of VASP in human gastric cancer cells, thus inhibiting the cancer cell adhesion and migration.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Acta Pharmacologica Sinica
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    • "Interactions may also be significantly modified by numerous physiologically relevant factors such as buffer ionic strength, VASP and actin concentration, substrate confinement or molecular crowding (Breitsprecher et al. 2008). Because nucleation, tetramerization and bundling are all interrelated and accounted for by the EVH2 domain found in each of VASP's four flexible arms, VASP–actin interactions may be strongly influenced by the local cytoskeletal environment (Chereau and Dominguez 2006). Because VASP–actin interactions are complex, it is important to study them in simplified and controlled systems . "
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    ABSTRACT: Vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (Ena/VASP) is an actin binding protein, important for actin dynamics in motile cells and developing organisms. Though VASP's main activity is the promotion of barbed end growth, it has an F-actin binding site and can form tetramers, and so could additionally play a role in actin crosslinking and bundling in the cell. To test this activity, we performed rheology of reconstituted actin networks in the presence of wild-type VASP or mutants lacking the ability to tetramerize or to bind G-actin and/or F-actin. We show that increasing amounts of wild-type VASP increase network stiffness up to a certain point, beyond which stiffness actually decreases with increasing VASP concentration. The maximum stiffness is 10-fold higher than for pure actin networks. Confocal microscopy shows that VASP forms clustered actin filament bundles, explaining the reduction in network elasticity at high VASP concentration. Removal of the tetramerization site results in significantly reduced bundling and bundle clustering, indicating that VASP's flexible tetrameric structure causes clustering. Removing either the F-actin or the G-actin binding site diminishes VASP's effect on elasticity, but does not eliminate it. Mutating the F-actin and G-actin binding site together, or mutating the F-actin binding site and saturating the G-actin binding site with monomeric actin, eliminates VASP's ability to increase network stiffness. We propose that, in the cell, VASP crosslinking confers only moderate increases in linear network elasticity, and unlike other crosslinkers, VASP's network stiffening activity may be tuned by the local concentration of monomeric actin.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Biophysics of Structure and Mechanism
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    • "The proline-rich domain mediates the recruitment of profilin. The EVH2 domain contains both a WH2-like domain that interacts with monomeric actin and an F-actin-binding domain (FAB) [46, 47]. Finally the C-terminal end contains a tetramerization motif (Figure 2). "
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    ABSTRACT: Cell-matrix adhesion plays a major role during cell migration. Proteins from adhesion structures connect the extracellular matrix to the actin cytoskeleton, allowing the growing actin network to push the plasma membrane and the contractile cables (stress fibers) to pull the cell body. Force transmission to the extracellular matrix depends on several parameters including the regulation of actin dynamics in adhesion structures, the contractility of stress fibers, and the mechanosensitive response of adhesion structures. Here we highlight recent findings on the molecular mechanisms by which actin assembly is regulated in adhesion structures and the molecular basis of the mechanosensitivity of focal adhesions.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · International Journal of Cell Biology
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