We cloned and sequenced the two actin-related proteins (Arps) present in the profilin-binding complex of Acanthamoeba (Machesky, L. M., S. J. Atkinson, C. Ampe, J. Vandekerckhove, and T. D. Pollard. 1994, J. Cell Biol. 127:107-115). The sequence of Arp2 is more similar to other Arp2s than to actin, while the sequence of Arp3 is more similar to other Arp3s than to actin. Phylogenetic analysis of all known Arps demonstrates that most group into three major families, which are likely to be shared across all eukaryotic phyla. Together with conventional actins, the Arps form a larger family distinct from structurally related ATPases such as Hsp70's and sugar kinases. Atomic models of the Arps based on their sequences and the structure of actin provide some clues about function. Both Arps have atoms appropriately placed to bind ATP and divalent cation. Arp2, but not Arp3, has a conserved profilin-binding site. Neither Arp has the residues required to copolymerize with actin, but an Arp heterodimer present in the profilin-binding complex might serve as a pointed end nucleus for actin polymerization. Both Acanthamoeba Arps are soluble in cell homogenates, and both are concentrated in the cortex of Acanthamoeba. The cellular concentrations are 1.9 microM Arp2 and 5.1 microM Arp3, substoichiometric to actin (200 microM) but comparable to many actin-binding proteins.

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