Abi activates WASP to promote sensory organ development.

Nat Cell Biol.
October 2005
Bogdan S
Stephan R
Löbke C
Mertens A
Klämbt C

Actin polymerization is a key process for many cellular events during development. To a large extent, the formation of filamentous actin is controlled by the WASP and WAVE proteins that activate the Arp2/3 complex in different developmental processes. WAVE function is regulated through a protein complex containing Sra1, Kette and Abi. Using biochemical, cell biological and genetic tools, we show here that the Abi protein also has a central role in activating WASP-mediated processes. Abi binds WASP through its carboxy-terminal domain and acts as a potent stimulator of WASP-dependent F-actin formation. To elucidate the biological function of abi in Drosophila melanogaster, we studied bristle development, a process known to require wasp function. Reduction of abi function leads to a loss of bristles similar to that observed in wasp mutants. Activation of Abi results in the formation of ectopic bristles, a phenotype that is suppressed by a reduction of wasp activity but is not affected by the reduction of wave function. Thus, in vivo Abi may set the balance between WASP and WAVE in different actin-based developmental processes.