Compressive and Tensile Deformations Alter ATP Hydrolysis and Phosphate Release Rates in Actin Filaments

J Chem Theory Comput. 2021 Mar 9;17(3):1900-1913. doi: 10.1021/acs.jctc.0c01186. Epub 2021 Feb 17.


Actin filament networks in eukaryotic cells are constantly remodeled through nucleotide state controlled interactions with actin binding proteins, leading to macroscopic structures such as bundled filaments, branched filaments, and so on. The nucleotide (ATP) hydrolysis, phosphate release, and polymerization/depolymerization reactions that lead to the formation of these structures are correlated with the conformational fluctuations of the actin subunits at the molecular scale. The resulting structures generate and experience varying levels of force and impart cells with several functionalities such as their ability to move, divide, transport cargo, etc. Models that explicitly connect the structure to reactions are essential to elucidate a fundamental level of understanding of these processes. In this regard, a bottom-up Ultra-Coarse-Grained (UCG) model of actin filaments that can simulate ATP hydrolysis, inorganic phosphate release (Pi), and depolymerization reactions is presented in this work. In this model, actin subunits are represented using coarse-grained particles that evolve in time and undergo reactions depending on the conformations sampled. The reactions are represented through state transitions, with each state represented by a unique effective coarse-grained potential. Effects of compressive and tensile strains on the rates of reactions are then analyzed. Compressive strains tend to unflatten the actin subunits, reduce the rate of ATP hydrolysis, and increase the Pi release rate. On the other hand, tensile strain flattens subunits, increases the rate of ATP hydrolysis, and decrease the Pi release rate. Incorporating these predictions into a Markov State Model highlighted that strains alter the steady-state distribution of subunits with ADPPi and ADP nucleotide, thus identifying possible additional factors underlying the cooperative binding of regulatory proteins to actin filaments.

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / chemistry
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phosphates / chemistry
  • Phosphates / metabolism*


  • Phosphates
  • Adenosine Triphosphate