Whereas it has been demonstrated that muscle and nonmuscle isoactins are segregated into distinct cytoplasmic domains, the mechanism regulating subcellular sorting is unknown (Herman, 1993a). To reveal whether isoform-specific actin-binding proteins function to coordinate these events, cell extracts derived from motile (Em) versus stationary (Es) cytoplasm were selectively and sequentially fractionated over filamentous isoactin affinity columns prior to elution with a KCl step gradient. A polypeptide of interest, which binds specifically to beta-actin filament columns, but not to muscle actin columns has been conclusively identified as the ERM family member, ezrin. We studied ezrin-beta interactions in vitro by passing extracts (Em) over isoactin affinity matrices in the presence of Ca(2+)-containing versus Ca(2+)-free buffers, with or without cytochalasin D. Ezrin binds and can be released from beta-actin Sepharose-4B in the presence of Mg2+/EGTA and 100 mM NaCl (at 4 degrees C and room temperature), but not when affinity fractionation of Em is carried out in the presence of 0.2 mM CaCl2 or 2 microM cytochalasin D. N-acetyl-(leucyl)2-norleucinal and E64, two specific inhibitors of the calcium-activated protease, calpain I, protect ezrin binding to beta actin in the presence of calcium. Moreover, biochemical analysis of endothelial lysates reveals that a calpain I cleavage product of ezrin emerges when cell locomotion is stimulated in response to monolayer injury. Immunofluorescence analysis of leading lamellae reveals that anti-ezrin and anti-beta-actin IgGs can be simultaneously co-localized, extending the results of isoactin affinity fractionation of Em-derived extracts and suggesting that ezrin and beta-actin interact in vivo. To test the hypothesis that ezrin binds directly to beta-actin, we performed three sets of studies under a wide range of physiological conditions (pH 7.0-8.5) using purified pericyte ezrin and either alpha- or beta-actin. These included co-sedimentation, isoactin affinity fractionation, and co-immunoprecipitation. Results of these experiments reveal that purified ezrin does not directly bind to beta-actin filaments, either in solution or while isoactins are covalently cross-linked to Sepharose-4B. This is in contrast to our finding that ezrin and beta-actin could be co-immunoprecipitated or co-sedimented from Em-derived cell lysates. To explore whether calcium transients occur in cellular domains enriched in ezrin and beta-actin, we mapped cellular free calcium in endothelial monolayers crawling in response to injury.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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