The actin filaments of myofibrils are highly organized; they are of a uniform length and polarity and are situated in the sarcomere in an aligned array. We hypothesized that the barbed-end actin-binding protein, CapZ, directs the process of actin filament assembly during myofibrillogenesis. We tested this hypothesis by inhibiting the actin-binding activity of CapZ in developing myotubes in culture using two different methods. First, injection of a monoclonal antibody that prevents the interaction of CapZ and actin disrupts the non-striated bundles of actin filaments formed during the early stages of myofibril formation in skeletal myotubes in culture. The antibody, when injected at concentrations lower than that required for disrupting the actin filaments, binds at nascent Z-disks. Since the interaction of CapZ and the monoclonal antibody are mutually exclusive, this result indicates that CapZ binds nascent Z-disks independent of an interaction with actin filaments. In a second approach, expression in myotubes of a mutant form of CapZ that does not bind actin results in a delay in the appearance of actin in a striated pattern in myofibrils. The organization of alpha-actinin at Z-disks also is delayed, but the organization of titin and myosin in sarcomeres is not significantly altered. We conclude that the interaction of CapZ and actin is important for the organization of actin filaments of the sarcomere.
A mAb (1E5) that binds the COOH-terminal region of the beta subunit of chicken CapZ inhibits the ability of CapZ to bind the barbed ends of actin filaments and nucleate actin polymerization. CapZ prepared as fusion proteins in bacteria or nonfusion proteins by in vitro translation has activity similar to that of CapZ purified from muscle. Deletion of the COOH-terminus of the beta subunit of CapZ leads to a loss of CapZ's ability to bind the barbed ends of actin filaments. A peptide corresponding to the COOH-terminal region of CapZ beta, expressed as a fusion protein, binds actin monomers. The mAb 1E5 also inhibits the binding of this peptide to actin. These results suggest that the COOH-terminal region of the beta subunit of CapZ is an actin-binding site. The primary structure of this region is not similar to that of potential actin-binding sites identified in other proteins. In addition, the primary structure of this region is not conserved across species.