Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 10459016
J. Cell Biol. 1999 Aug;146(4):819-30
Villin is an actin-binding protein localized in intestinal and kidney brush borders. In vitro, villin has been demonstrated to bundle and sever F-actin in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner. We generated knockout mice to study the role of villin in vivo. In villin-null mice, no noticeable changes were observed in the ultrastructure of the microvilli or in the localization and expression of the actin-binding and membrane proteins of the intestine. Interestingly, the response to elevated intracellular Ca(2+) differed significantly between mutant and normal mice. In wild-type animals, isolated brush borders were disrupted by the addition of Ca(2+), whereas Ca(2+) had no effect in villin-null isolates. Moreover, increase in intracellular Ca(2+) by serosal carbachol or mucosal Ca(2+) ionophore A23187 application abolished the F-actin labeling only in the brush border of wild-type animals. This F-actin disruption was also observed in physiological fasting/refeeding experiments. Oral administration of dextran sulfate sodium, an agent that causes colonic epithelial injury, induced large mucosal lesions resulting in a higher death probability in mice lacking villin, 36 +/- 9.6%, compared with wild-type mice, 70 +/- 8.8%, at day 13. These results suggest that in vivo, villin is not necessary for the bundling of F-actin microfilaments, whereas it is necessary for the reorganization elicited by various signals. We postulate that this property might be involved in cellular plasticity related to cell injury.