By using F-actin affinity chromatography columns to select proteins solely by their ability to bind to actin filaments, we have identified and partially purified greater than 40 proteins from early Drosophila embryos. These proteins represent approximately 0.5% of the total protein present in soluble cell extracts, and 2 mg are obtained by chromatography of an extract from 10 g of embryos. As judged by immunofluorescence of fixed embryos, 90% of the proteins that we have detected in F-actin column eluates are actin-associated in vivo (12 of 13 proteins tested). The distributions of antigens observed suggest that groups of these proteins cooperate in generating unique actin structures at different places in the cell. These structures change as cells progress through the cell cycle and as they undergo the specializations that accompany development. The variety of different spatial localizations that we have observed in a small subset of the total actin-binding proteins suggests that the actin cytoskeleton is a very complex network of interacting proteins.

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