Elongation factor 1 alpha (EF1 alpha) is an abundant protein that binds aminoacyl-tRNA and ribosomes in a GTP-dependent manner. EF1 alpha also interacts with the cytoskeleton by binding and bundling actin filaments and microtubules. In this report, the effect of purified EF1 alpha on actin polymerization and depolymerization is examined. At molar ratios present in the cytosol, EF1 alpha significantly blocks both polymerization and depolymerization of actin filaments and increases the final extent of actin polymer, while at high molar ratios to actin, EF1 alpha nucleates actin polymerization. Although EF1 alpha binds actin monomer, this monomer-binding activity does not explain the effects of EF1 alpha on actin polymerization at physiological molar ratios. The mechanism for the inhibition of polymerization is related to the actin-bundling activity of EF1 alpha. Both ends of the actin filament are inhibited for polymerization and both bundling and the inhibition of actin polymerization are affected by pH within the same physiological range; at high pH both bundling and the inhibition of actin polymerization are reduced. Additionally, it is seen that the binding of aminoacyl-tRNA to EF1 alpha releases EF1 alpha's inhibiting effect on actin polymerization. These data demonstrate that EF1 alpha can alter the assembly of F-actin, a filamentous scaffold on which non-membrane-associated protein translation may be occurring in vivo.

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