A one-to-one complex of a 45,000-mol-wt protein and actin was purified from unfertilized eggs of the sea urchin, Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus, by means of DNase l-Sepharose affinity and gel filtration column chromatographies. Effects of the complex on the polymerization of actin were studied by viscometry, spectrophotometry, and electron microscopy. The results are summarized as follows: (a) The initial rate of actin polymerization is inhibited at a very low molar ratio of the complex to actin. (b) Acceleration of the initial rate of polymerization occurs at a relatively high, but still substoichiometric, molar ratio of the complex to actin. (c) Annealing of F-actin fragments is inhibited by the complex. (d) The complex prevents actin filaments from depolymerizing. (e) Growth of the actin filament is inhibited at the barbed end. In all cases except b, a molar ratio of less than 1:100 of the 45,000-mol-wt protein-actin complex to actin is sufficient to produce these significant effects. These results indicate that the 45,000-mol-wt protein-actin complex from the sea urchin egg regulates the assembly of actin by binding to the barbed end (preferred end or rapidly growing end) of the actin filament. The 45,000-mol-wt protein-actin complex can thus be categorized as a capping protein.

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