The assembly of highly purified actin from Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae and rabbit skeletal muscle by physiological concentrations of KCI proceeds through successive stages of (a) rapid formation of a distinct monomeric species referred to as KCI-monomer, (b) incorporation of KCI-monomers into an ATP-containing filament, and (c) ATP hydrolysis that occurs significantly after the incorporation event. KCI-monomer has a conformation which is distinct from that of either conventional G- or F-actin, as judged by UV spectroscopy at 210-220 nm and by changes in ATP affinity. ATP is not hydrolyzed during conversion of G-actin to KCI-monomer. KCI-monomer formation precedes filament formation and may be necessary for the assembly event. Although incorporation of KCI-monomers into filaments demonstrates lagphase kinetics by viscometry, both continuous absorbance monitoring at 232 nm and rapid sedimentation of filaments demonstrate hyperbolic assembly curves. ATP hydrolysis significantly lags the formation of actin filaments. When half of the actin has assembled, only 0.1 to 0.2 mole of ATP are hydrolyzed per mole of actin present as filaments.

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