Phenotypically altered C2 myoblast cells, generated by the stable transfection of human nonmuscle actin genes (Schevzov, G., C. Lloyd, and P. Gunning. 1992. J. Cell Biol. 117:775-786), exhibit a differential pattern of tropomyosin cellular organization and isoform gene expression. The beta-actin transfectants displaying a threefold increase in the cell surface area, showed no significant changes in the pattern of organization of the high M(r) tropomyosin isoform, Tm 2, or the low M(r) tropomyosin isoform, Tm 5. In contrast, the gamma- and beta sm-actin gene transfectants, exhibiting a twofold decrease in the cell surface area, had an altered organization of Tm 2 but not Tm 5. In these actin transfectants, Tm 2 did not preferentially segregate into stress fiber-like structures and the intensity of staining was greatly diminished. Conversely, a well-defined stress fiber-like organization of Tm 5 was observed. The pattern of organization of these tropomyosin isoforms correlated with their expression such that a profound decrease in Tm 2 expression was observed both at the transcript and protein levels, whereas Tm 5 remained relatively unchanged. These results suggest that relative changes in nonmuscle actin gene expression can affect the organization and expression of tropomyosin in an isoform specific manner. Furthermore, this apparent direct link observed between actin and tropomyosin expression suggests that nonpharmacological signals originating in the cytoskeleton can regulate cytoarchitectural gene expression.

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