Vinculin nucleates actin polymerization and modifies actin filament structure

Kuo Kuang Wen, Peter A. Rubenstein, Kris A. DeMali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Vinculin links integrins to the actin cytoskeleton by binding F-actin. Little is known with respect to how this interaction occurs or affects actin dynamics. Here we assess the consequence of the vinculin tail (VT) on actin dynamics by examining its binding to monomeric and filamentous yeast actins. VT causes pyrene-labeled G-actin to polymerize in low ionic strength buffer (G-buffer), conditions that normally do not promote actin polymerization. Analysis by electron microscopy shows that, under these conditions, the filaments form small bundles at low VT concentrations, which gradually increase in size until saturation occurs at a ratio of 2 VT:1 actin. Addition of VT to pyrene-labeled mutant yeast G-actin (S265C) produced a fluorescence excimer band, which requires a relatively normal filament geometry. In higher ionic strength polymerization-promoting F-buffer, substoichiometric amounts of VT accelerate the polymerization of pyrene-labeled WT actin. However, the amplitude of the pyrene fluorescence caused by actin polymerization is quenched as the VT concentration increases without an effect on net actin polymerization as determined by centrifugation assays. Finally, addition of VT to preformed pyrene-labeled S265C F-actin causes a concentration-dependent decrease in the maximum amplitude of the pyrene fluorescence band demonstrating the ability of VT to remodel the conformation of the actin filament. These observations support the idea that vinculin can link adhesion plaques to the cytoskeleton by initiating the formation of bundled actin filaments or by remodeling existing filaments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30463-30473
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 30 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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