By cosedimentation, spectrofluorimetry, and electron microscopy, we have established that actin is induced to polymerize at low salt concentrations by positively charged liposomes. This polymerization occurs only at the surface of the liposomes, and thus monomers not in direct contact with the liposome remain monomeric. The integrity of the liposome membrane is necessary to maintain actin in its polymerized state since disruption of the liposome depolymerizes actin. Actin polymerized at the surface of the liposome is organized into two filamentous structures: sheets of parallel filaments in register and a netlike organization. Spectrofluorimetric analysis with the probe N-pyrenyl-iodoacetamide shows that actin is in the F conformation, at least in the environment of the probe. However, actin assembly induced by the liposome is not accompanied by full ATP hydrolysis as observed in vitro upon addition of salts.

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