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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 2002 Jun;52(2):91-6.

Growth cones contain myosin II bipolar filament arrays.

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Dept. of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Nonmuscle myosin II is among the most abundant forms of myosin in nerve growth cones. At least two isoforms of myosin II (A and B) that have overlapping but distinct distributions are found in growth cones. It appears that both myosin IIA and IIB may be necessary for normal nerve outgrowth and motility, but the molecular interactions responsible for their activity remain unclear. For instance, it is unknown if these myosin II isoforms produce bipolar "minifilaments" in growth cones similar to those observed in other nonmuscle cells. To determine if minifilaments are present in growth cones, we modified the electron microscopy preparative procedures used to detect minifilaments in other cell types. We found structures that appeared very similar to bipolar minifilaments found in noneuronal cells. They also labeled with antibodies to either myosin IIA or IIB. Thus, the activity of myosin II in growth cones is likely to be similar to that in other nonmuscle cells. Bipolar filaments interacting with oppositely oriented actin filaments will produce localized contractions or exert tension on actin networks. This activity will be responsible for the myosin II dependent motility in growth cones.

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