• Filopodia formation in the absence of functional WAVE- and Arp2/3-complexes.

      Steffen, Anika; Faix, Jan; Resch, Guenter P; Linkner, Joern; Wehland, Juergen; Small, J Victor; Rottner, Klemens; Stradal, Theresia E B (2006-06-01)
      Cell migration is initiated by plasma membrane protrusions, in the form of lamellipodia and filopodia. The latter rod-like projections may exert sensory functions and are found in organisms as distant in evolution as mammals and amoeba such as Dictyostelium discoideum. In mammals, lamellipodia protrusion downstream of the small GTPase Rac1 requires a multimeric protein assembly, the WAVE-complex, which activates Arp2/3-mediated actin filament nucleation and actin network assembly. A current model of filopodia formation postulates that these structures arise from a dendritic network of lamellipodial actin filaments by selective elongation and bundling. Here, we have analyzed filopodia formation in mammalian cells abrogated in expression of essential components of the lamellipodial actin polymerization machinery. Cells depleted of the WAVE-complex component Nck-associated protein 1 (Nap1), and, in consequence, of lamellipodia, exhibited normal filopodia protrusion. Likewise, the Arp2/3-complex, which is essential for lamellipodia protrusion, is dispensable for filopodia formation. Moreover, genetic disruption of nap1 or the WAVE-orthologue suppressor of cAMP receptor (scar) in Dictyostelium was also ineffective in preventing filopodia protrusion. These data suggest that the molecular mechanism of filopodia formation is conserved throughout evolution from Dictyostelium to mammals and show that lamellipodia and filopodia formation are functionally separable.
    • Microtubules as platforms for assaying actin polymerization in vivo.

      Oelkers, J Margit; Vinzenz, Marlene; Nemethova, Maria; Jacob, Sonja; Lai, Frank P L; Block, Jennifer; Szczodrak, Malgorzata; Kerkhoff, Eugen; Backert, Steffen; Schlüter, Kai; et al. (2011)
      The actin cytoskeleton is continuously remodeled through cycles of actin filament assembly and disassembly. Filaments are born through nucleation and shaped into supramolecular structures with various essential functions. These range from contractile and protrusive assemblies in muscle and non-muscle cells to actin filament comets propelling vesicles or pathogens through the cytosol. Although nucleation has been extensively studied using purified proteins in vitro, dissection of the process in cells is complicated by the abundance and molecular complexity of actin filament arrays. We here describe the ectopic nucleation of actin filaments on the surface of microtubules, free of endogenous actin and interfering membrane or lipid. All major mechanisms of actin filament nucleation were recapitulated, including filament assembly induced by Arp2/3 complex, formin and Spir. This novel approach allows systematic dissection of actin nucleation in the cytosol of live cells, its genetic re-engineering as well as screening for new modifiers of the process.