We used Limulus sperm acrosomal actin bundles to examine the effect of 2 microM cytochalasin B (CB) on elongation from both the barbed and pointed ends of the actin filament. In this paper we report that 2 microM CB does not prevent monomer addition onto the barbed ends of the acrosomal actin filaments. Barbed end assembly occurred over a range of actin monomer concentrations (0.2-6 microM) in solutions containing 75 mM KCl, 5 mM MgCl2, 10 mM Imidazole, pH 7.2, and 2 microM CB. However, the elongation rates were reduced such that the rates at the barbed end were approximately the same as those at the pointed end. The association and dissociation rate constants were 8- to 10-fold smaller at the barbed end in the presence of CB along with an accompanying twofold increase in critical concentration at that end. Over the time course of experimentation there was little evidence for potentiation by CB of the nucleation step of assembly. CB did not sever actin filaments; instead its presence increased the susceptibility of actin filaments to breakage from the gentle shear forces incurred during sample preparation. Under these experimental conditions, the assembly rate constants and critical concentration at the pointed end were the same in both the presence and the absence of CB.

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