Actin depolymerizing factor (ADF) is a low molecular mass (19 kD) protein that forms a tightly bound dimeric complex with actin. We have raised a rabbit antiserum to chick brain ADF and used it to analyze the distribution and cellular localization of ADF. We find that ADF is a major constituent of all chick embryonic and most adult tissues examined, accounting for 0.1-0.4% of the total protein. Some tissues have as much as 0.6 mol ADF per mole actin. Adult heart and skeletal muscle are unusual in having very low levels of ADF: less than 0.02% of the soluble protein. During the development of skeletal muscle, ADF levels are maximal up to approximately 11 d in ovo and then decline to reach their adult levels by 14 d posthatching. Brain tissue and cultured cell lines from several other vertebrates, including mammals, all possess proteins of identical size to ADF that are recognized by the ADF antiserum. No proteins are specifically recognized by the ADF antiserum in extracts from Acanthamoeba castellanii or from nerve tissue of several invertebrates. Indirect immunofluorescence shows that ADF is present throughout the cytosol of most cells and at the leading edge of ruffled membranes and in the neuronal growth cone. Its abundance and widespread distribution together with its ability to sequester actin molecules, even those in an already polymerized state, suggest that ADF is a major factor in the regulation of actin filaments in many vertebrate cells.

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