Crenactin forms actin-like double helical filaments regulated by arcadin-2

Elife. 2016 Nov 17;5:e21600. doi: 10.7554/eLife.21600.


The similarity of eukaryotic actin to crenactin, a filament-forming protein from the crenarchaeon Pyrobaculum calidifontis supports the theory of a common origin of Crenarchaea and Eukaryotes. Monomeric structures of crenactin and actin are similar, although their filament architectures were suggested to be different. Here we report that crenactin forms bona fide double helical filaments that show exceptional similarity to eukaryotic F-actin. With cryo-electron microscopy and helical reconstruction we solved the structure of the crenactin filament to 3.8 Å resolution. When forming double filaments, the 'hydrophobic plug' loop in crenactin rearranges. Arcadin-2, also encoded by the arcade gene cluster, binds tightly with its C-terminus to the hydrophobic groove of crenactin. Binding is reminiscent of eukaryotic actin modulators such as cofilin and thymosin β4 and arcadin-2 is a depolymeriser of crenactin filaments. Our work further supports the theory of shared ancestry of Eukaryotes and Crenarchaea.

Keywords: Crenarchaea; F-actin; MreB; Pyrobaculum calidifontis; arcade cluster; bacterial cytoskeleton; biophysics; cell biology; structural biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / chemistry*
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors / chemistry*
  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors / ultrastructure
  • Actins / chemistry*
  • Actins / ultrastructure
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Microfilament Proteins / chemistry
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics*
  • Microfilament Proteins / ultrastructure
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Pyrobaculum / chemistry


  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors
  • Actins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins