Directional allosteric regulation of protein filament length

Adam S. Jermyn, Wenxiang Cao, W. Austin Elam, Enrique M. De La Cruz, Milo M. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cofilin and ADF are cytoskeleton remodeling proteins that cooperatively bind and fragment actin filaments. Bound cofilin molecules do not directly interact with each other, indicating that cooperative binding of cofilin is mediated by the actin filament lattice. Cofilactin is therefore a model system for studying allosteric regulation of self-assembly. How cofilin binding changes structural and mechanical properties of actin filaments is well established. Less is known about the interaction energies and the thermodynamics of filament fragmentation, which describes the collective manner in which the cofilin concentration controls mean actin filament length. Here, we provide a general thermodynamic framework for allosteric regulation of self-assembly, and we use the theory to predict the interaction energies of experimental actin filament length distributions over a broad range of cofilin binding densities and for multiple cofilactin variants. We find that bound cofilin induces changes in nearby actin-actin interactions, and that these allosteric effects are propagated along the filament to affect up to four neighboring cofilin-binding sites (i.e., beyond nearest-neighbor allostery). The model also predicts that cofilin differentially stabilizes and destabilizes longitudinal versus lateral actin-actin interactions, and that the magnitude, range, asymmetry, and even the sign of these interaction energies can be altered using different actin and cofilin mutational variants. These results demonstrate that the theoretical framework presented here can provide quantitative thermodynamic information governing cooperative protein binding and filament length regulation, thus revealing nanometer length-scale interactions from micron length-scale "wet-lab" measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number032409
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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