Actin-bundling proteins organize actin filaments into densely packed bundles. In Dictyostelium discoideum two abundant proteins display calcium-regulated bundling activity, fimbrin and the 34-kDa protein (ABP34). Using a GFP fusion we observed transient localization of fimbrin at the phagocytic cup and macropinosomes. The distribution of truncated constructs encompassing the EF hands and the first actin-binding domain (EA1) or both actin-binding domains devoid of EF hands (A1A2) was indistinguishable from that of the full length protein. The role of fimbrin and a possible functional overlap with ABP34 was investigated in fim- and double 34-/fim- mutants. Except for a moderate cell size defect, fim- mutants did not show defects in growth, endocytosis, exocytosis, and chemotaxis. Double mutants were characterized by a small cell size and a defect in morphogenesis resulting in small fruiting bodies and a low spore yield. The cell size defect could not be overcome by expression of fimbrin fragments EA1 or A1A2, suggesting that both bundling activity and regulation by calcium are important. Induction of filopod formation in 34-/fim- cells was not impaired, indicating that both proteins are dispensable for this process. We searched in the Dictyostelium genome database for fimbrin-like proteins that could compensate for the fimbrin defect and identified three unconventional fimbrins and two more proteins with actin-binding domains of the type present in fimbrins.
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