We used molecular genetic approaches to delete 521 amino acid residues from the proximal portion of the Dictyostelium myosin II tail. The deletion encompasses ~40% of the tail, including the S2-LMM junction, a region that in muscle myosin II has been proposed to be important for contraction. The functions of the mutant myosin II are indistinguishable from the wild-type myosin II in our in vitro assays. It binds to actin in a typical rigor configuration in the absence of ATP and it forms filaments in a normal salt- dependent manner. In an in vitro motility assay, both monomeric and filamentous forms of the mutant myosin II translocate actin filaments at 2.4 μm/s at 30°C, similar to that of wild-type myosin II. The mutant myosin II is also functional in vivo. Cells expressing the mutant myosin II in place of the native myosin II perform myosin II-dependent activities such as cytokinesis and formation of fruiting bodies, albeit inefficiently. Growth of the mutant cells in suspension gives rise to many large multinucleated cells, demonstrating that cytokinesis often fails. The majority of the fruiting bodies are also morphologically abnormal. These results demonstrate that this region of the myosin II tail is not required for motile activities but its presence is necessary for optimum function in vivo.
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