Filamentous actin (F-actin) plays essential roles in filamentous fungi, as in all other eukaryotes, in a wide variety of cellular processes including cell growth, intracellular motility, and cytokinesis. We visualized F-actin organization and dynamics in living Neurospora crassa cells via confocal microscopy of growing hyphae expressing GFP fusions with homologues of the actin-binding proteins fimbrin (FIM) and tropomyosin (TPM-1), a subunit of the Arp2/3 complex (ARP-3) and a recently developed live cell F-actin marker, Lifeact (ABP140 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae). FIM-GFP, ARP-3-GFP, and Lifeact-GFP associated with small patches in the cortical cytoplasm that were concentrated in a subapical ring, which appeared similar for all three markers but was broadest in hyphae expressing Lifeact-GFP. These cortical patches were short-lived, and a subset was mobile throughout the hypha, exhibiting both anterograde and retrograde motility. TPM-1-GFP and Lifeact-GFP co-localized within the Spitzenkörper (Spk) core at the hyphal apex, and were also observed in actin cables throughout the hypha. All GFP fusion proteins studied were also transiently localized at septa: Lifeact-GFP first appeared as a broad ring during early stages of contractile ring formation and later coalesced into a sharper ring, TPM-1-GFP was observed in maturing septa, and FIM-GFP/ARP3-GFP-labeled cortical patches formed a double ring flanking the septa. Our observations suggest that each of the N. crassa F-actin-binding proteins analyzed associates with a different subset of F-actin structures, presumably reflecting distinct roles in F-actin organization and dynamics. Moreover, Lifeact-GFP marked the broadest spectrum of F-actin structures; it may serve as a global live cell marker for F-actin in filamentous fungi.
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