Latrunculin A Accelerates Actin Filament Depolymerization in Addition to Sequestering Actin Monomers

Ikuko Fujiwara, Mark E. Zweifel, Naomi Courtemanche, Thomas D. Pollard

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79 Scopus citations


Latrunculin A (LatA), a toxin from the red sea sponge Latrunculia magnifica, is the most widely used reagent to depolymerize actin filaments in experiments on live cells. LatA binds actin monomers and sequesters them from polymerization [1, 2]. Low concentrations of LatA result in rapid (tens of seconds) disassembly of actin filaments in animal [3] and yeast cells [2]. Depolymerization is usually assumed to result from sequestration of actin monomers. Our observations of single-muscle actin filaments by TIRF microscopy showed that LatA bound ATP-actin monomers with a higher affinity (Kd = 0.1 μM) than ADP-Pi-actin (Kd = 0.4 μM) or ADP-actin (Kd = 4.7 μM). LatA also slowly severed filaments and increased the depolymerization rate at both ends of filaments freshly assembled from ATP-actin to the rates of ADP-actin. This rate plateaued at LatA concentrations >60 μM. LatA did not change the depolymerization rates of ADP- actin filaments or ADP-Pi-actin filaments generated with 160 mM phosphate in the buffer. LatA did not increase the rate of phosphate release from bulk samples of filaments assembled from ATP-actin. Thermodynamic analysis showed that LatA binds weakly to actin filaments with a Kd >100 μM. We propose that concentrations of LatA much lower than this Kd promote phosphate dissociation only from both ends of filaments, resulting in depolymerization limited by the rate of ADP-actin dissociation. Thus, one must consider both rapid actin depolymerization and severing in addition to sequestering actin monomers when interpreting the effects of LatA on cells. Fujiwara et al. address how Latrunculin A (LatA) depolymerizes actin filaments. Observations of single filaments revealed that LatA not only sequesters actin monomers but also promotes subunit dissociation from the ends of filaments assembled from ATP-actin monomers by rapid “aging” due to fast phosphate dissociation from terminal ADP-Pi-subunits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3183-3192.e2
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 8 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • ADP
  • ATP
  • actin
  • capping protein
  • depolymerization
  • formin
  • latrunculin A
  • phosphate
  • polymerization


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