[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Cortactin is an F-actin- and Arp2/3 complex-binding protein, implicated in the regulation of cytoskeleton dynamics and cortical actin-assembly. The actin-binding domain of cortactin consists of a 6.5 tandem repeat of a 37-amino acid sequence known as the cortactin repeat (residues 80-325). Using a combination of structure prediction, circular dichroism, and cysteine crosslinking, we tested a recently published three-dimensional model of the cortactin molecule in which the cortactin repeat is folded as a globular helical domain [Zhang et al., 2007, Mol Cell 27:197-213]. We show that the cortactin repeat is unstructured in solution. Thus, wild type and mutant constructs of the cortactin repeat, containing pairs of cysteines at positions 112 and 246, 83 and 112, 83 and 246, and 83 and 306, could be readily crosslinked with reagents of varying lengths (0-9.6 A). Using yeast actin cysteine mutants, we also show that cortactin inhibits disulfide and dibromobimane crosslinking across the lateral and longitudinal interfaces of actin subunits in the filament, suggesting a weakening of intersubunits contacts. Our results are in disagreement with the proposed model of the cortactin molecule and have important implications for our understanding of cortactin regulation of cytoskeleton dynamics.
Full-text available · Article · Feb 2009 · Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Initiation of actin polymerization in cells requires nucleation factors. Here we describe an actin-binding protein, leiomodin,
that acted as a strong filament nucleator in muscle cells. Leiomodin shared two actin-binding sites with the filament pointed
end–capping protein tropomodulin: a flexible N-terminal region and a leucine-rich repeat domain. Leiomodin also contained
a C-terminal extension of 150 residues. The smallest fragment with strong nucleation activity included the leucine-rich repeat
and C-terminal extension. The N-terminal region enhanced the nucleation activity threefold and recruited tropomyosin, which
weakly stimulated nucleation and mediated localization of leiomodin to the middle of muscle sarcomeres. Knocking down leiomodin
severely compromised sarcomere assembly in cultured muscle cells, which suggests a role for leiomodin in the nucleation of
tropomyosin-decorated filaments in muscles.
Full-text available · Article · May 2008 · Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The adaptor protein missing-in-metastasis (MIM) contains independent F- and G-actin binding domains, consisting, respectively, of an N-terminal 250 aa IRSp53/MIM homology domain (IMD) and a C-terminal WASP-homology domain 2 (WH2). We determined the crystal structures of MIM's IMD and that of its WH2 bound to actin. The IMD forms a dimer, with each subunit folded as an antiparallel three-helix bundle. This fold is related to that of the BAR domain. Like the BAR domain, the IMD has been implicated in membrane binding. Yet, comparison of the structures reveals that the membrane binding surfaces of the two domains have opposite curvatures, which may determine the type of curvature of the interacting membrane. The WH2 of MIM is longer than the prototypical WH2, interacting with all four subdomains of actin. We characterize a similar WH2 at the C terminus of IRSp53 and propose that in these two proteins WH2 performs a scaffolding function.
Full-text available · Article · Mar 2007 · Structure
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: 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.
Article · Sep 2006 · Journal of Structural Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Cortactin and WASP activate Arp2/3-mediated actin filament nucleation and branching. However, different mechanisms underlie activation by the two proteins, which rely on distinct actin-binding modules and modes of binding to actin filaments. It is generally thought that cortactin binds to "mother" actin filaments, while WASP donates actin monomers to Arp2/3-generated "daughter" filament branches. Interestingly, cortactin also binds WASP in addition to F-actin and the Arp2/3 complex. However, the structural basis for the role of cortactin in filament branching remains unknown, making interpretation difficult. Here, electron microscopy and 3D reconstruction were carried out on F-actin decorated with the actin-binding repeating domain of cortactin, revealing conspicuous density on F-actin attributable to cortactin that is located on a consensus-binding site on subdomain-1 of actin subunits. Strikingly, the binding of cortactin widens the gap between the two long-pitch filament strands. Although other proteins have been found to alter the structure of the filament, the cortactin-induced conformational change appears unique. The results are consistent with a mechanism whereby alterations of the F-actin structure may facilitate recruitment of the Arp2/3 complex to the "mother" filament in the cortex of cells. In addition, cortactin may act as a structural adapter protein, stabilizing nascent filament branches while mediating the simultaneous recruitment of Arp2/3 and WASP.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Wiskott–Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP)-homology domain 2 (WH2) is a small and widespread actin-binding motif. In the WASP family, WH2 plays a role in filament nucleation by Arp2/3 complex. Here we describe the crystal structures of complexes of actin with the WH2 domains of WASP, WASP-family verprolin homologous protein, and WASP-interacting protein. Despite low sequence identity, WH2 shares structural similarity with the N-terminal portion of the actin monomer-sequestering thymosin β domain (Tβ). We show that both domains inhibit nucleotide exchange by targeting the cleft between actin subdomains 1 and 3, a common binding site for many unrelated actin-binding proteins. Importantly, WH2 is significantly shorter than Tβ but binds actin with ≈10-fold higher affinity. WH2 lacks a C-terminal extension that in Tβ4 becomes involved in monomer sequestration by interfering with intersubunit contacts in F-actin. Owing to their shorter length, WH2 domains connected in tandem by short linkers can coexist with intersubunit contacts in F-actin and are proposed to function in filament nucleation by lining up actin subunits along a filament strand. The WH2-central region of WASP-family proteins is proposed to function in an analogous way by forming a special class of tandem repeats whose function is to line up actin and Arp2 during Arp2/3 nucleation. The structures also suggest a mechanism for how profilin-binding Pro-rich sequences positioned N-terminal to WH2 could feed actin monomers directly to WH2, thereby playing a role in filament elongation.
• x-ray crystallography
• isothermal titration calorimetry
• nucleotide exchange
Article · Dec 2005 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences