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We describe a method for the induction of different polymorphic forms of actin filament paracrystals. This polymorphism is probably based on differences in the stagger and/or polarity of adjacent filaments in single-layered paracrystals and by superposition of different layers in multilayered paracrystals. The helical parameters defining the filament geometry are indistinguishable for the different polymorphic forms observed and for the four different actins used. Analysis of these paracrystals, some of which are ordered to better than 2.5 nm, should provide a reference structure suitable for alignment and orientation within the actin filament of high resolution models of the actin monomer obtained from crystal data.
The Journal of Cell Biology