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Cell Biochem Biophys. 1999;30(3):389-411.

How many is enough? Exploring the myosin repertoire in the model eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum.

Author information

  • 1Department of Molecular Cell Research, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, Germany.

Abstract

The cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells is a very complex milieu and unraveling how its unique cytoarchitecture is achieved and maintained is a central theme in modern cell biology. It is crucial to understand how organelles and macro-complexes of RNA and/or proteins are transported to and/or maintained at their specific cellular locations. The importance of filamentous-actin-directed myosin-powered cargo transport was only recently realized, and after an initial explosion in the identification of new molecules, the field is now concentrating on their functional dissection. Direct connections of myosins to a variety of cellular tasks are now slowly emerging, such as in cytokinesis, phagocytosis, endocytosis, polarized secretion and exocytosis, axonal transport, etc. Unconventional myosins have been identified in a wide variety of organisms, making the presence of actin and myosins a hallmark of eukaryotism. The genome of S. cerevisiae encodes only five myosins, whereas a mammalian cell has the capacity to express between two and three dozen myosins. Why is it so crucial to arrive at this final census? The main questions that we would like to discuss are the following. How many distinct myosin-powered functions are carried out in a typical higher eukaryote? Or, in other words, what is the minimal set of myosins essential to accomplish the multitude of tasks related to motility and intracellular dynamics in a multicellular organism? And also, as a corollary, what is the degree of functional redundancy inside a given myosin class? In that respect, the choice of a model organism suitable for such an investigation is more crucial than ever. Here we argue that Dictyostelium discoideum is affirming its position as an ideal system of intermediate complexity to study myosin-powered trafficking and is or will soon become the second eukaryote for which complete knowledge of the whole repertoire of myosins is available.

PMID:
10403058
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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