Frozen, hydrated acrosomal bundles from Limulus sperm were imaged with a 400 kV electron cryomicroscope. Segments of this long bundle can be studied as a P1 crystal with a unit cell containing an acrosomal filament with 28 actin and 28 scruin molecules in 13 helical turns. A novel computational procedure was developed to extract single columns of superimposed acrosomal filaments from the distinctive crystallographic view. Helical reconstruction was used to generate a three-dimensional structure of this computationally isolated acrosomal filament. The scruin molecule is organized into two domains which contact two actin subunits in different strands of the same actin filament. A correlation of Holmes' actin filament model to the density in our acrosomal filament map shows that actin subdomains 1, 2, and 3 match the model density closely. However, actin subdomain 4 matches rather poorly, suggesting that interactions with scruin may have altered actin conformation. Scruin makes extensive interactions with helix-loop-beta motifs in subdomain 3 of one actin subunit and in subdomain 1 of a consecutive actin subunit along the genetic filament helix. These two actin subdomains are structurally homologous and are closely spaced along the actin filament. Our model suggests that scruin, which is derived from a tandemly duplicated gene, has evolved to bind structurally homologous but non-identical positions across two consecutive actin subunits.

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