Gelsolin is a calcium binding protein that shortens actin filaments. This effect occurs in the presence but not in the absence of micromolar calcium ion concentrations and is partially reversed following removal of calcium ions. Once two actin molecules have bound to gelsolin in solutions containing Ca2+, one of the actins remains bound following chelation of calcium, so that the reversal of gelsolin's effect cannot be accounted for simply by its dissociation from the ends of the shortened filaments to allow for elongation. In this paper, the interactions with actin of the ethylene glycol bis(β-aminoethyl ether)-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (EGTA) stable 1:1 gelsolin-actin complexes are compared with those of free gelsolin. The abilities of free or complexed gelsolin to sever actin filaments, nucleate filament assembly, bind to the fast growing (+) filament ends, and lower the filament size distribution in the presence of either Ca2+ or EGTA were examined. The results show that both free gelsolin and gelsolin-actin complexes are highly dependent on Ca2+ concentration when present in a molar ratio to actin less than 1:50. The gelsolin-actin complexes, however, differ from free gelsolin in that they have a higher affinity for (+) filament ends in EGTA and they cannot sever filaments in calcium. The limited reversal of actin-gelsolin binding following removal of calcium and the calcium sensitivity of nucleation by complexes suggest an alternative to reannealing of shortened filaments that involves redistribution of actin monomers and may account for the calcium-sensitive functional reversibility of the solation of actin by gelsolin.
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