Cells assemble and maintain functionally distinct actin cytoskeleton networks with various actin filament organizations and dynamics through the coordinated action of different sets of actin-binding proteins. The biochemical and functional properties of diverse actin-binding proteins, both alone and in combination, have been increasingly well studied. Conversely, how different sets of actin-binding proteins properly sort to distinct actin filament networks in the first place is not nearly as well understood. Actin-binding protein sorting is critical for the self-organization of diverse dynamic actin cytoskeleton networks within a common cytoplasm. Using in vitro reconstitution techniques including biomimetic assays and single-molecule multi-color total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, we discovered that sorting of the prominent actin-bundling proteins fascin and α-actinin to distinct networks is an intrinsic behavior, free of complicated cellular signaling cascades. When mixed, fascin and α-actinin mutually exclude each other by promoting their own recruitment and inhibiting recruitment of the other, resulting in the formation of distinct fascin- or α-actinin-bundled domains. Subdiffraction-resolution light microscopy and negative-staining electron microscopy revealed that fascin domains are densely packed, whereas α-actinin domains consist of widely spaced parallel actin filaments. Importantly, other actin-binding proteins such as fimbrin and espin show high specificity between these two bundle types within the same reaction. Here we directly observe that fascin and α-actinin intrinsically segregate to discrete bundled domains that are specifically recognized by other actin-binding proteins.
Keywords: Arp2/3 complex; TIRF microscopy; actin; cytoskeleton; espin; filopodia; fimbrin; plastin; tropomyosin.
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