The terminal web of the intestinal brush border contains a spectrin-like protein, TW 260/240 (Glenney, J. R., Jr., P. Glenney, M. Osborne, and K. Weber, 1982, Cell, 28:843-854.) that interconnects the "rootlet" ends of microvillar filament bundles in the terminal web (Hirokawa, N., R. E. Cheng, and M. Willard, 1983, Cell, 32:953-965; Glenney J. R., P. Glenney, and K. Weber, 1983, J. Cell Biol., 96:1491-1496). We have investigated further the structural properties of TW 260/240 and the interaction of this protein with actin. Salt extraction of TW 260/240 from isolated brush borders results in a loss of terminal web cross-linkers primarily from the apical zone directly beneath the plasma membrane. Morphological studies on purified TW 260/240 using the rotary shadowing technique confirm earlier results that this protein is spectrin-like and is in the tetrameric state in buffers of low ionic strength. However, examination of TW 260/240 tetramers by negative staining revealed a molecule much straighter and more uniform in diameter than rotary-shadowed molecules. At salt concentrations at (150 mM KCl) and above (300 mM KCl) the physiological range, we observed a partial dissociation of tetramers into dimers that occurred at both 0 degree and 37 degrees C. We also observed (in the presence of 75 mM KCl) a concentration-dependent self-association of TW 260/240 into sedimentable aggregates. We have studied the interaction of TW 260/240 with actin using techniques of co-sedimentation, viscometry, and both light and electron microscopy. We observed that TW 260/240 can bind and cross-link actin filaments and that this interaction is salt- and pH-dependent. Under optimum conditions (25-75 mM KCl, at pH 7.0) TW 260/240 cross-linked F-actin into long, large-diameter bundles. The filaments within these bundles were tightly packed but loosely ordered. At higher pH (7.5) such bundles were not observed, although binding and cross-linking were detectable by co-sedimentation and viscometry. At higher salt (greater than 150 mM KCl), the binding of TW 260/240 to actin was inhibited. The presence of skeletal muscle tropomyosin had no significant effect on the salt-dependent binding of TW 260/240 to F-actin.

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