Indexed on: 09 Jun '05Published on: 09 Jun '05Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry
Ena/VASP proteins influence the organization of actin filament networks within lamellipodia and filopodia of migrating cells and in actin comet tails. The molecular mechanisms by which Ena/VASP proteins control actin dynamics are unknown. We investigated how Ena/VASP proteins regulate actin polymerization at actin filament barbed ends in vitro in the presence and absence of barbed end capping proteins. Recombinant His-tagged VASP increased the rate of actin polymerization in the presence of the barbed end cappers, heterodimeric capping protein (CP), CapG, and gelsolin-actin complex. Profilin enhanced the ability of VASP to protect barbed ends from capping by CP, and this required interactions of profilin with G-actin and VASP. The VASP EVH2 domain was sufficient to protect barbed ends from capping, and the F-actin and G-actin binding motifs within EVH2 were required. Phosphorylation by protein kinase A at sites within the VASP EVH2 domain regulated anti-capping and F-actin bundling by VASP. We propose that Ena/VASP proteins associate at or near actin filament barbed ends, promote actin assembly, and restrict the access of barbed end capping proteins.