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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The bimodal role of filamin in controlling the architecture and mechanics of F-actin networks.

Reconstituted actin filament networks have been used extensively to understand the mechanics of the actin cortex and decipher the role of actin cross-linking proteins in the maintenance and deformation of cell shape. However, studies of the mechanical role of the F-actin cross-linking protein filamin have led to seemingly contradictory conclusions, in part due to the use of ill-defined mechanical assays. Using quantitative rheological methods that avoid the pitfalls of previous studies, we systematically tested the complex mechanical response of reconstituted actin filament networks containing a wide range of filamin concentrations and compared the mechanical function of filamin with that of the cross- linking/bundling proteins alpha-actinin and fascin. At steady state and within a well defined linear regime of small non-destructive deformations, F-actin solutions behave as highly dynamic networks (actin polymers are still sufficiently mobile to relax the stress) below the cross-linking-to-bundling threshold filamin concentration, and they behave as covalently cross-linked gels above that threshold. Under large deformations, F-actin networks soften at low filamin concentrations and strain-harden at high filamin concentrations. Filamin cross-links F-actin into networks that are more resilient, stiffer, more solid-like, and less dynamic than alpha-actinin and fascin. These results resolve the controversy by showing that F-actin/filamin networks can adopt diametrically opposed rheological behaviors depending on the concentration in cross-linking proteins.[1]


  1. The bimodal role of filamin in controlling the architecture and mechanics of F-actin networks. Tseng, Y., An, K.M., Esue, O., Wirtz, D. J. Biol. Chem. (2004) [Pubmed]
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