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Modulation of the F-actin cytoskeleton by c-Abl tyrosine kinase in cell spreading and neurite extension.


The nonreceptor tyrosine kinase encoded by the c-Abl gene has the unique feature of an F-actin binding domain (FABD). Purified c-Abl tyrosine kinase is inhibited by F-actin, and this inhibition can be relieved through mutation of its FABD. The c-Abl kinase is activated by physiological signals that also regulate the actin cytoskeleton. We show here that c-Abl stimulated the formation of actin microspikes in fibroblasts spreading on fibronectin. This function of c-Abl is dependent on kinase activity and is not shared by c-Src tyrosine kinase. The Abl-dependent F-actin microspikes occurred under conditions where the Rho-family GTPases were inhibited. The FABD-mutated c-Abl, which is active in detached fibroblasts, stimulated F-actin microspikes independent of cell attachment. Moreover, FABD-mutated c-Abl stimulated the formation of F-actin branches in neurites of rat embryonic cortical neurons. The reciprocal regulation between F-actin and the c-Abl tyrosine kinase may provide a self-limiting mechanism in the control of actin cytoskeleton dynamics.

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