Polylysine-coated polystyrene beads can nucleate polar assembly of monomeric actin into filamentous form. This nucleation has been demonstrated by a combination of biochemical and structural experiments. The polylysine-coated beads accelerate the rate of actin assembly as detected by two different biochemical assays. Subsequent examination of the beads by electron microscopy reveals numerous actin filaments of similar length radiating from the beads. ATP promotes this bead-induced acceleration of assembly. Decoration of the filaments with the myosin fragment S1 shows that these filaments all have the same polarity, with the arrowhead pattern pointing toward the bead. The relevance of the system to in vitro mechanisms and its usefulness in other studies are discussed.

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