Actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin enhances the turnover of actin filaments by two separable activities: filament severing and pointed-end depolymerization. Multicellular organisms express multiple ADF/cofilin isoforms in a tissue-specific manner, and the vertebrate proteins are grouped into ADFs and cofilins on the basis of their biochemical activity. A recent comparative study has shown that ADF has greater severing and depolymerizing activities than cofilin [Chen, H., Bernstein, B. W., Sneider, J. M., Boyle, J. A., Minamide, L. S., and Bamburg, J. R. (2004) Biochemistry 43, 7127-7142]. Here, we show that the two Caenorhabditis elegans ADF/cofilin isoforms exhibit different activities for severing and depolymerizing actin filaments. The ADF-like non-muscle isoform UNC-60A had greater activities to cause net depolymerization and inhibit polymerization than the cofilin-like muscle isoform UNC-60B. Surprisingly, UNC-60B exhibited much stronger severing activity than UNC-60A, which was the opposite of what was observed for vertebrate counterparts. Moreover, UNC-60B induced much faster pointed-end depolymerization of rabbit muscle actin than UNC-60A, while UNC-60A caused slightly faster depolymerization of C. elegans actin than UNC-60B. These results suggest that cofilin-like UNC-60B is kinetically more efficient in enhancing actin turnover than ADF-like UNC-60A, while ADF-like UNC-60A is suitable for maintaining higher concentrations of monomeric actin. These functional differences might be specifically adapted for different actin dynamics in muscle and non-muscle cells.
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