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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. May 14, 1996; 93(10): 4775–4780.
PMCID: PMC39355

Genetic interactions among cytoplasmic dynein, dynactin, and nuclear distribution mutants of Neurospora crassa.

Abstract

Cytoplasmic dynein is a multisubunit, microtubule-associated, mechanochemical enzyme that has been identified as a retrograde transporter of various membranous organelles. Dynactin, an additional multisubunit complex, is required for efficient dynein-mediated transport of vesicles in vitro. Recently, we showed that three genes defined by a group of phenotypically identical mutants of the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa encode proteins that are apparent subunits of either cytoplasmic dynein or dynactin. These mutants, designated ropy (ro), display abnormal hyphal growth and are defective in nuclear distribution. We propose that mutations in other genes encoding dynein/dynactin subunits are likely to result in a ropy phenotype and have devised a genetic screen for the isolation of additional ro mutants. Cytoplasmic dynein/dynactin is the largest and most complex of the cytoplasmic motor proteins, and the genetic system described here is unique in its potentiality for identifying mutations in undefined genes encoding dynein/dynactin subunits or regulators. We used this screen to isolate > 1000 ro mutants, which were found to define 23 complementation groups. Unexpectedly, interallelic complementation was observed with some allele pairs of ro-1 and ro-3, which are predicted to encode the largest subunits of cytoplasmic dynein and dynactin, respectively. The results suggest that the Ro1 and Ro3 polypeptides may consist of multiple, functionally independent domains. In addition, approximately 10% of all newly isolated ro mutantsdisplay unlinked noncomplementation with two or more of the mutants that define the 23 complementation groups. The frequent appearance of ro mutants showing noncomplementation with multiple ro mutants having unlinked mutations suggests that nuclear distribution in filamentous fungi is a process that is easily disrupted by affecting either dosage or activity of cytoplasmic dynein, dynactin, and perhaps other cytoskeletal proteins or regulators.

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