Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Actin modulates shape and mechanics of tubular membranes

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Science Advances  22 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 17, eaaz3050
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz3050


The actin cytoskeleton shapes cells and also organizes internal membranous compartments. In particular, it interacts with membranes for intracellular transport of material in mammalian cells, yeast, or plant cells. Tubular membrane intermediates, pulled along microtubule tracks, are formed during this process and destabilize into vesicles. While the role of actin in tubule destabilization through scission is suggested, literature also provides examples of actin-mediated stabilization of membranous structures. To directly address this apparent contradiction, we mimic the geometry of tubular intermediates with preformed membrane tubes. The growth of an actin sleeve at the tube surface is monitored spatiotemporally. Depending on network cohesiveness, actin is able to entirely stabilize or locally maintain membrane tubes under pulling. On a single tube, thicker portions correlate with the presence of actin. These structures relax over several minutes and may provide enough time and curvature geometries for other proteins to act on tube stability.

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