We have evaluated the thermodynamic parameters associated with cooperative cofilin binding to actin filaments, accounting for contributions of ion-linked equilibria, and determined the kinetic basis of cooperative cofilin binding. Ions weaken non-contiguous (isolated, non-cooperative) cofilin binding to an actin filament without affecting cooperative filament interactions. Non-contiguous cofilin binding is coupled to the dissociation of ∼1.7 thermodynamically bound counterions. Counterion dissociation contributes ∼40% of the total cofilin binding free energy (in the presence of 50 mM KCl). The non-contiguous and cooperative binding free energies are driven entirely by large, positive entropy changes, consistent with a cofilin-mediated increase in actin filament structural dynamics. The rate constant for cofilin binding to an isolated site on an actin filament is slow and likely to be limited by filament breathing. Cooperative cofilin binding arises from an approximately tenfold more rapid association rate constant and an approximately twofold slower dissociation rate constant. The more rapid association rate constant is presumably a consequence of cofilin-dependent changes in the average orientation of subdomain 2, subunit angular disorder and filament twist, which increase the accessibility of a neighboring cofilin-binding site on an actin filament. Cooperative association is more rapid than binding to an isolated site, but still slow for a second-order reaction, suggesting that cooperative binding is limited also by binding site accessibility. We suggest that the dissociation of actin-associated ions weakens intersubunit interactions in the actin filament lattice that enhance cofilin-binding site accessibility, favor cooperative binding and promote filament severing. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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