Liebe NL, Mey I, Vuong L, Geil B, Janshoff A, Steinem C
The connection between the actomyosin cortex and the plasma membrane of eukaryotic cells is investigated by creating a versatile, near-native model system that allows studying the architecture and contractility of the cortex as a function of lipid composition. We found that the concentration of phosphatidylserine, a characteristic lipid of the inner leaflet of mammalian plasma membranes, plays a pivotal role in the binding of the membrane-cytoskeleton linker protein ezrin and the resulting contractile behavior of an adjacent actin network. In addition to the specific receptor lipid for ezrin, i.e., PtdIns[4,5]P2 cross-linking the network to the inner leaflet, the presence of phosphatidylserine in the membrane is critical to enhancing the binding of ezrin to PtdIns[4,5]P2 and allows rapid local actin contraction at physiologically relevant concentrations in the regime of 1-3 mol% PtdIns[4,5]P2. In the presence of phosphatidylserine, the additional negative charges in the membrane may induce enhanced sliding of the filaments on the membrane surface due to repulsive interactions between F-actin and the bilayer readily leading to the emergence of contraction foci. Conversely, if phosphatidylserine is replaced by an increased PtdIns[4,5]P2 concentration of 5 or 8 mol%, a highly connected but non-contracting actin network is observed.