Actophorin is an abundant 15-kD actinbinding protein from Acanthamoeba that is thought to form a nonpolymerizable complex with actin monomers and also to reduce the viscosity of polymerized actin by severing filaments (Cooper et al., 1986. J. Biol. Chem. 261:477-485). Homologous proteins have been identified in sea urchin, chicken, and mammalian tissues. Chemical crosslinking produces a 1:1 covalent complex of actin and actophorin. Actophorin and profilin compete for crosslinking to actin monomers. The influence of actophorin on the steady-state actin polymer concentration gave a Kd of 0.2 microM for the complex of actophorin with actin monomers. Several new lines of evidence, including assays for actin filament ends by elongation rate and depolymerization rate, show that actophorin severs actin filaments both at steady state and during spontaneous polymerization. This is confirmed by direct observation in the light microscope and by showing that the effects of actophorin on the low shear viscosity of polymerized actin cannot be explained by monomer sequestration. The severing activity of actophorin is strongly inhibited by stoichiometric concentrations of phalloidin or millimolar concentrations of inorganic phosphate.

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