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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1996;35(4):367-79.

Role of the ninaC proteins in photoreceptor cell structure: ultrastructure of ninaC deletion mutants and binding to actin filaments.

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School of Optometry, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA.


The ninaC proteins are found in Drosophila photoreceptor cells. Their primary sequences suggest they are kinase/myosin chimeras, but their myosin head-like domain is the most divergent amongst all the myosin-like proteins described to date. To investigate possible roles of the ninaC proteins in cell structure, we examined the ultrastructure of the photoreceptor cells in various ninaC mutants, and tested the ability of the proteins to interact with actin filaments in a myosin-like manner. In flies lacking the larger ninaC protein, p174, an ultrastructural phenotype was evident before eclosion. The axial actin cytoskeleton of the rhabdomeral microvilli appeared either fragmented or as an isolated structure, without linkage to the microvillar membrane. Deletion of the myosin head-like domain or the calmodulin-binding domain of p174 resulted in a similar abnormal cytoskeleton. Breakdown of the rhabdomeres followed, although at different rates depending on the deletion. Lack of the smaller protein, p132, per se did not result in photoreceptor degeneration, but in older flies there was an abnormal accumulation of multivesicular bodies. Moreover, the presence of p132 retarded the degeneration that occurs in the absence of p174, even though the p132 remained outside the rhabdomere. Biochemical studies showed that both ninaC proteins bind actin filaments and cosediment with actin filaments in an ATP-sensitive manner. These results outline structural roles for the ninaC proteins, and are consistent with the notion, suggested by their amino acid sequences, that the proteins are actin-based mechanoenzymes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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