Poly(ethylene glycol) 6000 affected many of the properties of skeletal-muscle actin. It accelerated the rate and increased the extent of actin polymerization as measured by light-scattering and sedimentation studies respectively. Moreover, intrinsic-fluorescence measurements showed that addition of poly(ethylene glycol) 6000 decreased the rate of EDTA-induced denaturation of actin monomer and increased the temperature at which irreversible conformational changes occur in actin monomer. These effects occurred without any apparent direct binding interaction and are postulated to be a consequence of the effect of excluded volume on the thermodynamic activity of actin. A relationship based on spherical geometry was formulated which described the co-volume increment that occurs upon addition of a monomer to a long linear polymer in the presence of a space-filling macromolecule. The application of this relationship to the poly(ethylene glycol) 6000-actin system was not without assumption, but it permitted quantitative estimation of the co-volume increment which proved to be of the sign and magnitude required to explain the increased extent of actin polymerization found experimentally in the presence of various concentrations of poly(ethylene glycol) 6000. It is suggested that, in vivo, excluded volume may play a role in actin-filament formation and in the maintenance of the native G-actin structure.

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