The previous investigation (Abe et al. (1989) J. Biochem. 106, 696–702) suggested that cofilin is deeply involved in the regulation of actin assembly in developing skeletal muscle. In this study, to examine further the function of cofilin in living myogenic cells in culture, recombinant cofilin having extra Cys residues at the N terminus was produced in Escherichia coli and was labeled with tetramethylrhodamine-iodoacetamide (IATMR). When the cofilin labeled with IATMR (IATMR-cofilin) was introduced into myogenic cells, actin filaments in the cytoplasm or nascent myofibrils were promptly disrupted, and many cytoplasmic rods which contained both IATMR-cofilin and actin were generated. Sarcomeric myofibrillar structures were not disrupted but tropomyosin was dissociated from the structures by the exogenous cofilin, and the IATMR-cofilin became localized in I-band regions. 24 hours after the injection, however, the actin-cofilin rods disappeared completely and the IATMR-cofilin became diffused in the cytoplasm as endogenous cofilin. Concomitantly, actin filaments were recovered and tropomyosin was re-associated with sarcomeric I-bands. At this point, the IATMR-cofilin in the cells still retained the functional activity to form intranuclear actin-cofilin rods in response to stimulation by DMSO just as endogenous cofilin. FITC-labeled actin introduced into myogenic cells at first failed to assemble into filamentous structures in the presence of the exogenous cofilin, but was gradually incorporated into myofibrils with time. The drastic effects of the exogenous cofilin on actin assembly were suppressed by phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). These results indicate that the exogenous cofilin is active and alters actin dynamics remarkably in muscle cells, but its activity in the cytoplasm gradually becomes regulated by the action of some factors including PIP2-binding.

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