We have studied the abundance, relative gelation activity, and distribution of the 95,000-dalton actin-binding protein in Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae. The 95,000-dalton protein was a prominent polypeptide as assessed using quantitative densitometry and radioimmunoassay. We estimated that this protein comprised approximately 1.2% of the protein in a soluble extract of amoebae. The molar ratio of the dimeric 95,000-dalton protein to actin in the soluble extract was 1:30. The apparent viscosities of actin mixtures with either the purified 95,000-dalton protein or the soluble extract were measured by falling ball viscometry in an attempt to assess the contribution of the 95,000-dalton protein to gelation of the soluble extract. The gelation of the soluble extract was significantly less than that expected from the contribution of the 95,000-dalton protein alone. Consequently, we questioned the validity of quantitative analyses of the contributions of specific actin-binding proteins to the gelation of cell extracts. The apparent distribution of the 95,000-dalton protein was observed in chemically fixed and extracted cells by immunofluorescence microscopy and compared with the distribution of cytoplasm and organelles visible using light microscopy. The 95,000-dalton protein was dispersed throughout the cytoplasm of fixed cells, was apparently excluded from prominent organelles, and displayed brightest fluorescence in regions of hyaline cytoplasm. These regions of hyaline cytoplasm that exhibited the brightest fluorescence were observed in the cortical region of rounded cells and in pseudopods of polarized cells. Thus, cell shape and polarity may also have influenced the apparent distribution of the 95,000-dalton protein observed by immunofluorescence microscopy. Study of the distribution of fluorescein-labeled ovalbumin injected into living cells supported the interpretation that the thickness of the cell and the distribution of organelles contributed to the apparent distribution of the 95,000-dalton protein observed in fixed cells using immunofluorescence microscopy. We suggest that the 95,000-dalton protein contributes to modulation of the consistency and contractility of the cytoplasm of D. discoideum amoebae, since it could cross-link actin filaments in vitro in a reversible process that was regulated by changes in the concentration of calcium and of protons, and since it was present in large quantity in the cytoplasm of these cells.

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