The exchange of actin filament subunits for unpolymerized actin or for subunits in other filaments has been quantitated by three experimental techniques: fluorescence energy transfer, incorporation of 35S-labeled actin monomers into unlabeled actin filaments, and exchange of [14C]ATP with filament-bound ADP. In the fluorescence energy transfer experiments, actin labeled with 5-(iodoacetamidoethyl)aminonaphthalene-1-sulfonic acid (IAENS) served as the fluorescent energy donor, and actin labeled with either fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate (FITC) or fluorescein-5-maleimide (FM) served as the energy acceptor. Fluorescent-labeled actins from Dictyostelium amoebae and rabbit skeletal muscle were very similar to their unlabeled counterparts with respect to critical actin concentration for filament assembly, assembly rate, ATP hydrolysis upon assembly, and steady-state ATPase. As evidenced by two different types of fluorescence energy transfer experiments, less than 5% of the actin filament subunits exchanged under a variety of buffer conditions at actin concentrations greater than 0.5 mg/ml. At all actin concentrations limited exchange to a plateau level occurred with a half-time of about 20 min. Nearly identical results were obtained when exchange was quantitated by incorporation of 35S-labeled Dictyostelium actin monomers into unlabeled muscle actin or Dictyostelium actin filaments. Furthermore, the proportion of filament-bound ADP which exchanged with [14C]-ATP was nearly the same as actin subunit exchange measured by fluorescence energy transfer and 35S-labeled actin incorporation. These experiments demonstrate that under approximately physiologic ionic conditions only a small percentage of subunits in highly purified skeletal muscle or Dictyostelium F-actin participate in exchange.

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