The amoeboid myosin I's are required for cellular cortical functions such as pseudopod formation and macropinocytosis, as demonstrated by the finding that Dictyostelium cells overexpressing or lacking one or more of these actin-based motors are defective in these processes. Defects in these processes are concomitant with changes in the actin-filled cortex of various Dictyostelium myosin I mutants. Given that the amoeboid myosin I's possess both actin- and membrane-binding domains, the mutant phenotypes could be due to alterations in the generation and/or regulation of cell cortical tension. This has been directly tested by analyzing mutant Dictyostelium that either lacks or overexpresses various myosin I's, using micropipette aspiration techniques. Dictyostelium cells lacking only one myosin I have normal levels of cortical tension. However, myosin I double mutants have significantly reduced (50%) cortical tension, and those that mildly overexpress an amoeboid myosin I exhibit increased cortical tension. Treatment of either type of mutant with the lectin concanavalin A (ConA) that cross-links surface receptors results in significant increases in cortical tension, suggesting that the contractile activity of these myosin I's is not controlled by this stimulus. These results demonstrate that myosin I's work cooperatively to contribute substantially to the generation of resting cortical tension that is required for efficient cell migration and macropinocytosis.
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