Background: Septin2 is a member of a highly conserved GTPase family found in fungi and animals. Septins have been implicated in a diversity of cellular processes including cytokinesis, formation of diffusion barriers and vesicle trafficking. Septin2 partially co-localises with actin bundles in mammalian interphase cells and Septin2-filamentmorphology depends upon an intact actin cytoskeleton. How this interaction is regulated is not known. Moreover, evidence that Septin2 is remodelled or redistributed in response to other changes in actin organisation is lacking.
Results: Septin2 filaments are associated with actin fibres, but Septin2 is not associated with actin at the leading edge of moving cells or in ruffles where actin is highly dynamic. Rather, Septin2 is spatially segregated from these active areas and forms O- and C-shaped structures, similar to those previously observed after latrunculin treatment. FRAP experiments showed that all assemblies formed by Septin2 are highly dynamic with a constant exchange of Septin2 in and out of these structures, and that this property is independent of actin. A combination of RNAi experiments and expression of truncated forms of Septin2 showed that Septin2 plays a significant role in stabilising or maintaining actin bundles.
Conclusion: We show that Septin2 can form dynamic structures with differing morphologies in living cells, and that these morphologies are dependent on the functional state of the actin cytoskeleton. Our data provide a link between the different morphological states of Septin2 and functions of Septin2 in actin-dynamics, and are consistent with the model proposed by Kinoshita and colleagues, that Septin2 filaments play a role in stabilisation of actin stress fibres thus preventing actin turnover.