Rat peritoneal mast cells, both intact and permeabilized, have been used widely as model secretory cells. GTP-binding proteins and calcium play a major role in controlling their secretory response. Here we have examined changes in the organization of actin filaments in intact mast cells after activation by compound 48/80, and in permeabilized cells after direct activation of GTP-binding proteins by GTP-gamma-S. In both cases, a centripetal redistribution of cellular F-actin was observed: the content of F-actin was reduced in the cortical region and increased in the cell interior. The overall F-actin content was increased. Using permeabilized cells, we show that AIF4-, an activator of heterotrimeric G proteins, induces the disassembly of F-actin at the cortex, while the appearance of actin filaments in the interior of the cell is dependent on two small GTPases, rho and rac. Rho was found to be responsible for de novo actin polymerization, presumably from a membrane-bound monomeric pool, while rac was required for an entrapment of the released cortical filaments. Thus, a heterotrimeric G-protein and the small GTPases, rho and rac, participate in affecting the changes in the actin cytoskeleton observed after activation of mast cells.

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