Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Co-Founder and first Director, Interdisciplinary Program, Bio-X, Stanford University (1998 - 2002)
  • Co-Founder, Cytokinetics, Inc (1998 - Present)
  • Chairman, Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine (1994 - 1998)
  • Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine (1992 - Present)
  • Professor, Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine (1989 - 2011)
  • Chairman, Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine (1979 - 1984)
  • Professor, Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine (1977 - 1992)
  • Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco (1976 - 1977)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco (1974 - 1976)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco (1971 - 1974)

Honors & Awards

  • E.B. Wilson Medal, The American Society for Cell Biology (2011)
  • U.S. Genomics Award for Outstanding Investigator in the field of Single Molecule Biology, Biophysical Society (2006)
  • Elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences (1991)
  • Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1997)
  • American Heart Association Research Prize, National American Heart Association (1991)
  • Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2001)
  • Biophysical Society Lifetime Research Career Award, Biophysical Society (1995)
  • Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award, Brandeis University (1996)
  • 1997 Repligen Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes, Division of Biological Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (1996)
  • Named the "Douglass M. and Nola Leishman Professor of Cardiovascular Disease", Stanford University (1987 - present)
  • NIH Merit Award, National Institutes of Health (1991)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, Alexander von Humboldt Research Foundation (1991)
  • External Scientific Member of the Max-Planck-Institute für Biochemie in Martinsried bei München, Max-Planck Society (1994)

Professional Education

  • B.S., University of Illinois, Chemistry (1963)
  • Ph.D., Stanford University, Biochemistry (1968)
  • Postdoctoral, Stanford University, Genetics (1969)
  • Postdoctoral, Cambridge University, MRC LMB, Structural Biology (1971)

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

The general research interest of this laboratory is the molecular basis of cell motility. We have three specific research interests, the molecular basis of energy transduction that leads to ATP-driven myosin movement on actin, the biochemical basis of the regulation of actin and myosin interaction and their assembly states, and the roles these proteins play in vivo, in cell movement and changes in cell shape.

We work on two experimental systems: contraction of mammalian muscle and chemotaxis of Dictyostelium discoideum cells. Each of these systems has its special advantages. Skeletal muscle has the most highly organized contractile apparatus of any cell type, and the chemistry and biochemistry of muscle actin and myosin are most advanced.

Dictyostelium discoideum, the cell that commands most of our attention, exhibits all of the behavior of nonmuscle mammalian cells and, unlike other eukaryotic cells, can be grown in large amounts for biochemical work. Furthermore, DNA-mediated transformation is being applied to this organism, and we have demonstrated efficient gene targeting by homologous recombination in the myosin gene, which we have cloned and sequenced.

Our approaches include biochemical and structural studies of actin, myosin, and associated regulatory proteins. In addition, we have designed and developed in vitro assays for ATP-dependent movement of purified myosin on filaments reconstituted from purified actin. These assays allow us to analyze mutant myosin molecules for altered function. The site-directed mutagenized forms of myosin are obtained by gene cloning and expression in an appropriate host. Our demonstration that the Dictyostelium discoideum myosin gene can undergo homologous recombination allows us to also probe the effects of the altered myosin forms on the phenotype of the cell.


2014-15 Courses


Journal Articles

  • Cell-Intrinsic Functional Effects of the alpha-Cardiac Myosin Arg-403-Gln Mutation in Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL Chuan, P., Sivaramakrishnan, S., Ashley, E. A., Spudich, J. A. 2012; 102 (12): 2782-2790


    Human familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common Mendelian cardiovascular disease worldwide. Among the most severe presentations of the disease are those in families heterozygous for the mutation R403Q in ?-cardiac myosin. Mice heterozygous for this mutation in the ?-cardiac myosin isoform display typical familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy pathology. Here, we study cardiomyocytes from heterozygous 403/+ mice. The effects of the R403Q mutation on force-generating capabilities and dynamics of cardiomyocytes were investigated using a dual carbon nanofiber technique to measure single-cell parameters. We demonstrate the Frank-Starling effect at the single cardiomyocyte level by showing that cell stretch causes an increase in amplitude of contraction. Mutant 403/+ cardiomyocytes exhibit higher end-diastolic and end-systolic stiffness than +/+ cardiomyocytes, whereas active force generation capabilities remain unchanged. Additionally, 403/+ cardiomyocytes show slowed relaxation dynamics. These phenotypes are consistent with increased end-diastolic and end-systolic chamber elastance, as well as diastolic dysfunction seen at the level of the whole heart. Our results show that these functional effects of the R403Q mutation are cell-intrinsic, a property that may be a general phenomenon in familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.04.049

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305546500012

    View details for PubMedID 22735528

  • The myosin superfamily at a glance JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE Hartman, M. A., Spudich, J. A. 2012; 125 (7): 1627-1632

    View details for DOI 10.1242/jcs.094300

    View details for Web of Science ID 000303911300002

    View details for PubMedID 22566666

  • Systematic control of protein interaction using a modular ER/K alpha-helix linker PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Sivaramakrishnan, S., Spudich, J. A. 2011; 108 (51): 20467-20472


    Cellular functions of proteins are strongly influenced by their interactions with other proteins. The frequency of protein interactions is a function of the local concentration of two proteins and their affinity for one another. When two proteins are tethered together, the link between them influences their effective concentrations and therefore the frequency of their interaction. Currently no methods exist to systematically vary the effective concentration within this intramolecular interaction. Here we outline a modular, genetically encoded linker, namely, an ER/K [genetically encoded polypeptide motif based on alternating sequence of approximately four glutamic acid (E) followed by approximately four arginine (R) or lysine (K) residues] single ?-helix that can be used to regulate the frequency of interaction between two proteins, or between a protein and a peptide, one at each end. We exploit the wide range of interaction affinities between calmodulin and its binding peptides, combined with FRET to determine the effect of the ER/K ?-helix in regulating protein interactions. We find that increasing the length of the ER/K ?-helix reduces the on rate of the intramolecular interaction without significantly affecting the off rate, regardless of the affinity of the bimolecular interaction. We outline a genetically encoded approach to determine the dissociation constant for both moderate (micromolar K(d)) and strong (nanomolar K(d)) protein interactions. Our studies demonstrate the use of the ER/K ?-helix to systematically engineer FRET biosensors that detect changes in concentration or affinity of interacting proteins, and modulate enzyme autoinhibition. Our findings are consistent with the ER/K ?-helix as a worm-like chain with rare, stochastic breaks in the helix backbone that may account for the behavior of myosin VI stepping along actin.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1116066108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000298289400047

    View details for PubMedID 22123984

  • Molecular motors: forty years of interdisciplinary research MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL Spudich, J. A. 2011; 22 (21): 3936-3939


    A mere forty years ago it was unclear what motor molecules exist in cells that could be responsible for the variety of nonmuscle cell movements, including the "saltatory cytoplasmic particle movements" apparent by light microscopy. One wondered whether nonmuscle cells might have a myosin-like molecule, well known to investigators of muscle. Now we know that there are more than a hundred different molecular motors in eukaryotic cells that drive numerous biological processes and organize the cell's dynamic city plan. Furthermore, in vitro motility assays, taken to the single-molecule level using techniques of physics, have allowed detailed characterization of the processes by which motor molecules transduce the chemical energy of ATP hydrolysis into mechanical movement. Molecular motor research is now at an exciting threshold of being able to enter into the realm of clinical applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1091/mbc.E11-05-0447

    View details for Web of Science ID 000296603300008

    View details for PubMedID 22039067

  • Proteomics approach to study the functions of Drosophila myosin VI through identification of multiple cargo-binding proteins PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Finan, D., Hartman, A., Spudich, J. A. 2011; 108 (14): 5566-5571


    Myosin VI is a molecular motor implicated in many processes, and it likely associates with a variety of cargoes that specify its functions. Although it is critical to Drosophila development, little is known about its cellular roles. To reveal its involvement in specific pathways, we sought to identify the binding partners of Drosophila myosin VI. We used affinity chromatography and mass spectrometry to discover interacting proteins, which we tested for direct binding. Using this approach, we found that the microtubule-associated protein Cornetto bound myosin VI, and we demonstrated a role for both in secretion of the lipidated morphogen Hedgehog. We also identified a number of other binding proteins, and further characterization of their interactions with myosin VI will advance our understanding of the roles of these complexes in cellular and developmental processes. Thus, our method has provided us the means to gain valuable insight into the multifaceted roles of a motor protein in vivo.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1101415108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289265300020

    View details for PubMedID 21368190

  • Biochemistry. Molecular motors, beauty in complexity. Science Spudich, J. A. 2011; 331 (6021): 1143-1144

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1203978

    View details for PubMedID 21385703

  • Detailed Tuning of Structure and Intramolecular Communication Are Dispensable for Processive Motion of Myosin VI BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL Elting, M. W., Bryant, Z., Liao, J., Spudich, J. A. 2011; 100 (2): 430-439


    Dimeric myosin VI moves processively hand-over-hand along actin filaments. We have characterized the mechanism of this processive motion by measuring the impact of structural and chemical perturbations on single-molecule processivity. Processivity is maintained despite major alterations in lever arm structure, including replacement of light chain binding regions and elimination of the medial tail. We present kinetic models that can explain the ATP concentration-dependent processivities of myosin VI constructs containing either native or artificial lever arms. We conclude that detailed tuning of structure and intramolecular communication are dispensable for processive motion, and further show theoretically that one proposed type of nucleotide gating can be detrimental rather than beneficial for myosin processivity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.11.045

    View details for Web of Science ID 000286543600020

    View details for PubMedID 21244839

  • Robust Mechanosensing and Tension Generation by Myosin VI JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Chuan, P., Spudich, J. A., Dunn, A. R. 2011; 405 (1): 105-112


    Myosin VI is a molecular motor that is thought to function both as a transporter and as a cytoskeletal anchor in vivo. Here we use optical tweezers to examine force generation by single molecules of myosin VI under physiological nucleotide concentrations. We find that myosin VI is an efficient transporter at loads of up to ?2 pN but acts as a cytoskeletal anchor at higher loads. Our data and the resulting model are consistent with an indirect coupling of global structural motions to nucleotide binding and release. The model provides a mechanism by which load may regulate the dual functions of myosin VI in vivo. Our results suggest that myosin VI kinetics are tuned such that the motor maintains a consistent level of mechanical tension within the cell, a property potentially shared by other mechanosensitive proteins.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jmb.2010.10.010

    View details for Web of Science ID 000286700800011

    View details for PubMedID 20970430

  • Principles of Unconventional Myosin Function and Targeting ANNUAL REVIEW OF CELL AND DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY, VOL 27 Hartman, M. A., Finan, D., Sivaramakrishnan, S., Spudich, J. A. 2011; 27: 133-155


    Unconventional myosins are a superfamily of actin-based motors implicated in diverse cellular processes. In recent years, much progress has been made in describing their biophysical properties, and headway has been made into analyzing their cellular functions. Here, we focus on the principles that guide in vivo motor function and targeting to specific cellular locations. Rather than describe each motor comprehensively, we outline the major themes that emerge from research across the superfamily and use specific examples to illustrate each. In presenting the data in this format, we seek to identify open questions in each field as well as to point out commonalities between them. To advance our understanding of myosins' roles in vivo, clearly we must identify their cellular cargoes and the protein complexes that regulate motor attachment to fully appreciate their functions on the cellular and developmental levels.

    View details for DOI 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100809-151502

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299230700006

    View details for PubMedID 21639800

  • Helicity of short E-R/K peptides PROTEIN SCIENCE Sommese, R. F., Sivaramakrishnan, S., Baldwin, R. L., Spudich, J. A. 2010; 19 (10): 2001-2005


    Understanding the secondary structure of peptides is important in protein folding, enzyme function, and peptide-based drug design. Previous studies of synthetic Ala-based peptides (>12 a.a.) have demonstrated the role for charged side chain interactions involving Glu/Lys or Glu/Arg spaced three (i, i + 3) or four (i, i + 4) residues apart. The secondary structure of short peptides (<9 a.a.), however, has not been investigated. In this study, the effect of repetitive Glu/Lys or Glu/Arg side chain interactions, giving rise to E-R/K helices, on the helicity of short peptides was examined using circular dichroism. Short E-R/K-based peptides show significant helix content. Peptides containing one or more E-R interactions display greater helicity than those with similar E-K interactions. Significant helicity is achieved in Arg-based E-R/K peptides eight, six, and five amino acids long. In these short peptides, each additional i + 3 and i + 4 salt bridge has substantial contribution to fractional helix content. The E-R/K peptides exhibit a strongly linear melt curve indicative of noncooperative folding. The significant helicity of these short peptides with predictable dependence on number, position, and type of side chain interactions makes them an important consideration in peptide design.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/pro.469

    View details for Web of Science ID 000282716900019

    View details for PubMedID 20669185

  • Contribution of the myosin VI tail domain to processive stepping and intramolecular tension sensing PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Dunn, A. R., Chuan, P., Bryant, Z., Spudich, J. A. 2010; 107 (17): 7746-7750


    Myosin VI is proposed to act as both a molecular transporter and as an anchor in vivo. A portion of the molecule C-terminal to the canonical lever arm, termed the medial tail (MT), has been proposed to act as either a lever arm extension or as a dimerization motif. We describe constructs in which the MT is interrupted by a glycine-rich molecular swivel. Disruption of the MT results in decreased processive run lengths measured using single-molecule fluorescence microscopy and a decreased step size under applied load as measured in an optical trap. We used single-molecule gold nanoparticle tracking and optical trapping to examine the mechanism of coordination between the heads of dimeric myosin VI. We detect two rate-limiting kinetic processes at low (< 200 micromolar) ATP concentrations. Our data can be explained by a model in which intramolecular tension greatly increases the affinity of the lead head for ADP, likely by slowing ADP release from the lead head. This mechanism likely increases both the motor's processivity and its ability to act as an anchor under physiological conditions.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1002430107

    View details for Web of Science ID 000277088700028

    View details for PubMedID 20385849

  • Myosin VI: an innovative motor that challenged the swinging lever arm hypothesis NATURE REVIEWS MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY Spudich, J. A., Sivaramakrishnan, S. 2010; 11 (2): 128-137


    The swinging crossbridge hypothesis states that energy from ATP hydrolysis is transduced to mechanical movement of the myosin head while bound to actin. The light chain-binding region of myosin is thought to act as a lever arm that amplifies movements near the catalytic site. This model has been challenged by findings that myosin VI takes larger steps along actin filaments than early interpretations of its structure seem to allow. We now know that myosin VI does indeed operate by an unusual approximately 180 degrees lever arm swing and achieves its large step size using special structural features in its tail domain.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nrm2833

    View details for Web of Science ID 000273811200013

    View details for PubMedID 20094053



    Optical trapping is one of the most powerful single-molecule techniques. We provide a practical guide to set up and use an optical trap, applied to the molecular motor myosin as an example. We focus primarily on studies of myosin function using a dual-beam optical trap, a protocol to build such a trap, and the experimental and data analysis protocols to utilize it.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0076-6879(10)75014-X

    View details for Web of Science ID 000280733800014

    View details for PubMedID 20627164

  • Combining Single-Molecule Optical Trapping and Small-Angle X-Ray Scattering Measurements to Compute the Persistence Length of a Protein ER/K alpha-Helix BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL Sivaramakrishnan, S., Sung, J., Ali, M., Doniach, S., Flyvbjerg, H., Spudich, J. A. 2009; 97 (11): 2993-2999


    A relatively unknown protein structure motif forms stable isolated single alpha-helices, termed ER/K alpha-helices, in a wide variety of proteins and has been shown to be essential for the function of some molecular motors. The flexibility of the ER/K alpha-helix determines whether it behaves as a force transducer, rigid spacer, or flexible linker in proteins. In this study, we quantify this flexibility in terms of persistence length, namely the length scale over which it is rigid. We use single-molecule optical trapping and small-angle x-ray scattering, combined with Monte Carlo simulations to demonstrate that the Kelch ER/K alpha-helix behaves as a wormlike chain with a persistence length of approximately 15 nm or approximately 28 turns of alpha-helix. The ER/K alpha-helix length in proteins varies from 3 to 60 nm, with a median length of approximately 5 nm. Knowledge of its persistence length enables us to define its function as a rigid spacer in a translation initiation factor, as a force transducer in the mechanoenzyme myosin VI, and as a flexible spacer in the Kelch-motif-containing protein.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.09.009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272274500017

    View details for PubMedID 19948129

  • Insights into Human beta-Cardiac Myosin Function from Single Molecule and Single Cell Studies JOURNAL OF CARDIOVASCULAR TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH Sivaramakrishnan, S., Ashley, E., Leinwand, L., Spudich, J. A. 2009; 2 (4): 426-440


    beta-Cardiac myosin is a mechanoenzyme that converts the energy from ATP hydrolysis into a mechanical force that drives contractility in muscle. Thirty percent of the point mutations that result in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are localized to MYH7, the gene encoding human beta-cardiac myosin heavy chain (beta-MyHC). Force generation by myosins requires a tight and highly conserved allosteric coupling between its different protein domains. Hence, the effects of single point mutations on the force generation and kinetics of beta-cardiac myosin molecules cannot be predicted directly from their location within the protein structure. Great insight would be gained from understanding the link between the functional defect in the myosin protein and the clinical phenotypes of patients expressing them. Over the last decade, several single molecule techniques have been developed to understand in detail the chemomechanical cycle of different myosins. In this review, we highlight the single molecule techniques that can be used to assess the effect of point mutations on beta-cardiac myosin function. Recent bioengineering advances have enabled the micromanipulation of single cardiomyocyte cells to characterize their force-length dynamics. Here, we briefly review single cell micromanipulation as an approach to determine the effect of beta-MyHC mutations on cardiomyocyte function. Finally, we examine the technical challenges specific to studying beta-cardiac myosin function both using single molecule and single cell approaches.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12265-009-9129-2

    View details for Web of Science ID 000284691000010

    View details for PubMedID 20560001

  • Coupled myosin VI motors facilitate unidirectional movement on an F-actin network JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Sivaramakrishnan, S., Spudich, J. A. 2009; 187 (1): 53-60


    Unconventional myosins interact with the dense cortical actin network during processes such as membrane trafficking, cell migration, and mechanotransduction. Our understanding of unconventional myosin function is derived largely from assays that examine the interaction of a single myosin with a single actin filament. In this study, we have developed a model system to study the interaction between multiple tethered unconventional myosins and a model F-actin cortex, namely the lamellipodium of a migrating fish epidermal keratocyte. Using myosin VI, which moves toward the pointed end of actin filaments, we directly determine the polarity of the extracted keratocyte lamellipodium from the cell periphery to the cell nucleus. We use a combination of experimentation and simulation to demonstrate that multiple myosin VI molecules can coordinate to efficiently transport vesicle-size cargo over 10 microm of the dense interlaced actin network. Furthermore, several molecules of monomeric myosin VI, which are nonprocessive in single molecule assays, can coordinate to transport cargo with similar speeds as dimers.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.200906133

    View details for Web of Science ID 000270452800008

    View details for PubMedID 19786577

  • Engineered Myosin VI Motors Reveal Minimal Structural Determinants of Directionality and Processivity JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Liao, J., Elting, M. W., Delp, S. L., Spudich, J. A., Bryant, Z. 2009; 392 (4): 862-867


    Myosins have diverse mechanical properties reflecting a range of cellular roles. A major challenge is to understand the structural basis for generating novel functions from a common motor core. Myosin VI (M6) is specialized for processive motion toward the (-) end of actin filaments. We have used engineered M6 motors to test and refine the "redirected power stroke" model for (-) end directionality and to explore poorly understood structural requirements for processive stepping. Guided by crystal structures and molecular modeling, we fused artificial lever arms to the catalytic head of M6 at several positions, retaining varying amounts of native structure. We found that an 18-residue alpha-helical insert is sufficient to reverse the directionality of the motor, with no requirement for any calmodulin light chains. Further, we observed robust processive stepping of motors with artificial lever arms, demonstrating that processivity can arise without optimizing lever arm composition or mechanics.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jmb.2009.07.046

    View details for Web of Science ID 000270601200002

    View details for PubMedID 19631216

  • Dynamic Organization of Gene Loci and Transcription Compartments in the Cell Nucleus BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL Spudich, J. A. 2008; 95 (11): 5003-5004

    View details for DOI 10.1529/biophysj.108.139196

    View details for Web of Science ID 000260999500001

    View details for PubMedID 18805930

  • Dynamic charge interactions create surprising rigidity in the ER/K alpha-helical protein motif PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Sivaramakrishnan, S., Spink, B. J., Sim, A. Y., Doniach, S., Spudich, J. A. 2008; 105 (36): 13356-13361


    Protein alpha-helices are ubiquitous secondary structural elements, seldom considered to be stable without tertiary contacts. However, amino acid sequences in proteins that are based on alternating repeats of four glutamic acid (E) residues and four positively charged residues, a combination of arginine (R) and lysine (K), have been shown to form stable alpha-helices in a few proteins, in the absence of tertiary interactions. Here, we find that this ER/K motif is more prevalent than previously reported, being represented in proteins of diverse function from archaea to humans. By using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we characterize a dynamic pattern of side-chain interactions that extends along the backbone of ER/K alpha-helices. A simplified model predicts that side-chain interactions alone contribute substantial bending rigidity (0.5 pN/nm) to ER/K alpha-helices. Results of small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) and single-molecule optical-trap analyses are consistent with the high bending rigidity predicted by our model. Thus, the ER/K alpha-helix is an isolated secondary structural element that can efficiently span long distances in proteins, making it a promising tool in designing synthetic proteins. We propose that the significant rigidity of the ER/K alpha-helix can help regulate protein function, as a force transducer between protein subdomains.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0806256105

    View details for Web of Science ID 000259251700034

    View details for PubMedID 18768817

  • Long single alpha-helical tail domains bridge the gap between structure and function of myosin VI NATURE STRUCTURAL & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Spink, B. J., Sivaramakrishnan, S., Lipfert, J., Doniach, S., Spudich, J. A. 2008; 15 (6): 591-597


    Myosin VI has challenged the lever arm hypothesis of myosin movement because of its ability to take approximately 36-nm steps along actin with a canonical lever arm that seems to be too short to allow such large steps. Here we demonstrate that the large step of dimeric myosin VI is primarily made possible by a medial tail in each monomer that forms a rare single alpha-helix of approximately 10 nm, which is anchored to the calmodulin-bound IQ domain by a globular proximal tail. With the medial tail contributing to the approximately 36-nm step, rather than dimerizing as previously proposed, we show that the cargo binding domain is the dimerization interface. Furthermore, the cargo binding domain seems to be folded back in the presence of the catalytic head, constituting a potential regulatory mechanism that inhibits dimerization.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nsmb.1429

    View details for Web of Science ID 000256388900013

    View details for PubMedID 18511944

  • Molecular motors: A surprising twist in myosin VI translocation CURRENT BIOLOGY Spudich, J. A. 2008; 18 (2): R68-R70


    A recent study has revealed an unexpected change in conformation of the myosin VI converter domain, essential for twisting the lever arm through a approximately 180 degrees rotation to achieve a large step along actin.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2007.11.025

    View details for Web of Science ID 000252693900016

    View details for PubMedID 18211842

  • Predicting allosteric communication in myosin via a pathway of conserved residues JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Tang, S., Liao, J., Dunn, A. R., Altman, R. B., Spudich, J. A., Schmidt, J. P. 2007; 373 (5): 1361-1373


    We present a computational method that predicts a pathway of residues that mediate protein allosteric communication. The pathway is predicted using only a combination of distance constraints between contiguous residues and evolutionary data. We applied this analysis to find pathways of conserved residues connecting the myosin ATP binding site to the lever arm. These pathway residues may mediate the allosteric communication that couples ATP hydrolysis to the lever arm recovery stroke. Having examined pre-stroke conformations of Dictyostelium, scallop, and chicken myosin II as well as Dictyostelium myosin I, we observed a conserved pathway traversing switch II and the relay helix, which is consistent with the understood need for allosteric communication in this conformation. We also examined post-rigor and rigor conformations across several myosin species. Although initial residues of these paths are more heterogeneous, all but one of these paths traverse a consistent set of relay helix residues to reach the beginning of the lever arm. We discuss our results in the context of structural elements and reported mutational experiments, which substantiate the significance of the pre-stroke pathways. Our method provides a simple, computationally efficient means of predicting a set of residues that mediate allosteric communication. We provide a refined, downloadable application and source code (on to share this tool with the wider community (

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jmb.2007.08.059

    View details for Web of Science ID 000250712600021

    View details for PubMedID 17900617

  • The localization of inner centromeric protein (INCENP) at the cleavage furrow is dependent on Kif12 and involves interactions of the N terminus of INCENP with the actin cytoskeleton MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL Chen, Q., Lakshmikanth, G. S., Spudich, J. A., De Lozanne, A. 2007; 18 (9): 3366-3374


    The inner centromeric protein (INCENP) and other chromosomal passenger proteins are known to localize on the cleavage furrow and to play a role in cytokinesis. However, it is not known how INCENP localizes on the furrow or whether this localization is separable from that at the midbody. Here, we show that the association of Dictyostelium INCENP (DdINCENP) with the cortex of the cleavage furrow involves interactions with the actin cytoskeleton and depends on the presence of the kinesin-6-related protein Kif12. We found that Kif12 is found on the central spindle and the cleavage furrow during cytokinesis. Kif12 is not required for the redistribution of DdINCENP from centromeres to the central spindle. However, in the absence of Kif12, DdINCENP fails to localize on the cleavage furrow. Domain analysis indicates that the N terminus of DdINCENP is necessary and sufficient for furrow localization and that it binds directly to the actin cytoskeleton. Our data suggest that INCENP moves from the central spindle to the furrow of a dividing cell by a Kif12-dependent pathway. Once INCENP reaches the equatorial cortex, it associates with the actin cytoskeleton where it then concentrates toward the end of cytokinesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1091/mbc.E06-10-0895

    View details for Web of Science ID 000249162200012

    View details for PubMedID 17567958

  • Precise positioning of myosin VI on Endocytic vesicles in vivo PLOS BIOLOGY Altman, D., Goswami, D., Hasson, T., Spudich, J. A., Mayor, S. 2007; 5 (8): 1712-1722


    Myosin VI has been studied in both a monomeric and a dimeric form in vitro. Because the functional characteristics of the motor are dramatically different for these two forms, it is important to understand whether myosin VI heavy chains are brought together on endocytic vesicles. We have used fluorescence anisotropy measurements to detect fluorescence resonance energy transfer between identical fluorophores (homoFRET) resulting from myosin VI heavy chains being brought into close proximity. We observed that, when associated with clathrin-mediated endocytic vesicles, myosin VI heavy chains are precisely positioned to bring their tail domains in close proximity. Our data show that on endocytic vesicles, myosin VI heavy chains are brought together in an orientation that previous in vitro studies have shown causes dimerization of the motor. Our results are therefore consistent with vesicle-associated myosin VI existing as a processive dimer, capable of its known trafficking function.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050210

    View details for Web of Science ID 000249124800009

    View details for PubMedID 17683200

  • Identification of a minimal myosin Va binding site within an intrinsically unstructured domain of melanophilin JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Geething, N. C., Spudich, J. A. 2007; 282 (29): 21518-21528


    Myosin V is a molecular motor that transports a variety of cellular cargo, including organelles, vesicles, and messenger RNA. The proper peripheral distribution of melanosomes, a dense pigment-containing organelle, is dependent on actin and the activity of myosin Va. The recruitment of myosin Va to the melanosome and proper transport of the melanosome requires melanophilin, which directly binds to myosin Va and is tethered to the melanosome membrane via Rab27a. Here we use highly purified proteins to demonstrate that the globular tail domain of myosin Va binds directly to an intrinsically unstructured domain of melanophilin. The myosin Va binding domain of melanophilin lacks stable secondary structure, and (1)H NMR measurements indicate that the protein is unfolded. This domain is extremely sensitive to mild proteolysis and has a hydrodynamic radius that is consistent with a random coil-like polypeptide. We show that myosin Va binding does not induce the global folding of melanophilin. Truncations of melanophilin were utilized to define a short peptide sequence (26 residues) within melanophilin that is critical for myosin Va binding. We demonstrate that a peptide corresponding to these residues binds directly to the globular tail domain with the same affinity as melanophilin. We discuss the possible implications of protein intrinsic disorder in recruitment and maintenance of myosin Va on melanosome membranes.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M701932200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000248047500079

    View details for PubMedID 17513864

  • Dynamics of the unbound head during myosin V processive translocation NATURE STRUCTURAL & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Dunn, A. R., Spudich, J. A. 2007; 14 (3): 246-248


    Myosin V moves cargoes along actin filaments by walking hand over hand. Although numerous studies support the basic hand-over-hand model, little is known about the fleeting intermediate that occurs when the rear head detaches from the filament. Here we use submillisecond dark-field imaging of gold nanoparticle-labeled myosin V to directly observe the free head as it releases from the actin filament, diffuses forward and rebinds. We find that the unbound head rotates freely about the lever-arm junction, a trait that likely facilitates travel through crowded actin meshworks.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nsmb1206

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244715200016

    View details for PubMedID 17293871

  • Extending the absorbing boundary method to fit dwell-time distributions of molecular motors with complex kinetic pathways PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Liao, J., Spudich, J. A., Parker, D., Delp, S. L. 2007; 104 (9): 3171-3176


    Dwell-time distributions, waiting-time distributions, and distributions of pause durations are widely reported for molecular motors based on single-molecule biophysical experiments. These distributions provide important information concerning the functional mechanisms of enzymes and their underlying kinetic and mechanical processes. We have extended the absorbing boundary method to simulate dwell-time distributions of complex kinetic schemes, which include cyclic, branching, and reverse transitions typically observed in molecular motors. This extended absorbing boundary method allows global fitting of dwell-time distributions for enzymes subject to different experimental conditions. We applied the extended absorbing boundary method to experimental dwell-time distributions of single-headed myosin V, and were able to use a single kinetic scheme to fit dwell-time distributions observed under different ligand concentrations and different directions of optical trap forces. The ability to use a single kinetic scheme to fit dwell-time distributions arising from a variety of experimental conditions is important for identifying a mechanochemical model of a molecular motor. This efficient method can be used to study dwell-time distributions for a broad class of molecular motors, including kinesin, RNA polymerase, helicase, F(1) ATPase, and to examine conformational dynamics of other enzymes such as ion channels.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0611519104

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244661400029

    View details for PubMedID 17360624

  • The power stroke of myosin VI and the basis of reverse directionality PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Bryant, Z., Altman, D., Spudich, J. A. 2007; 104 (3): 772-777


    Myosin VI supports movement toward the (-) end of actin filaments, despite sharing extensive sequence and structural homology with (+)-end-directed myosins. A class-specific stretch of amino acids inserted between the converter domain and the lever arm was proposed to provide the structural basis of directionality reversal. Indeed, the unique insert mediates a 120 degrees redirection of the lever arm in a crystal structure of the presumed poststroke conformation of myosin VI [Ménétrey J, Bahloul A, Wells AL, Yengo CM, Morris CA, Sweeney HL, Houdusse A (2005) Nature 435:779-785]. However, this redirection alone is insufficient to account for the large (-)-end-directed stroke of a monomeric myosin VI construct. The underlying motion of the myosin VI converter domain must therefore differ substantially from the power stroke of (+)-end-directed myosins. To experimentally map out the motion of the converter domain and lever arm, we have generated a series of truncated myosin VI constructs and characterized the size and direction of the power stroke for each construct using dual-labeled gliding filament assays and optical trapping. Motors truncated near the end of the converter domain generate (+)-end-directed motion, whereas longer constructs move toward the (-) end. Our results directly demonstrate that the unique insert is required for directionality reversal, ruling out a large class of models in which the converter domain moves toward the (-) end. We suggest that the lever arm rotates approximately 180 degrees between pre- and poststroke conformations.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0610144104

    View details for Web of Science ID 000243761100018

    View details for PubMedID 17182734

  • Rho Kinase's Role in Myosin Recruitment to the Equatorial Cortex of Mitotic Drosophila S2 Cells Is for Myosin Regulatory Light Chain Phosphorylation PLOS ONE Dean, S. O., Spudich, J. A. 2006; 1 (2)


    Myosin II recruitment to the equatorial cortex is one of the earliest events in establishment of the cytokinetic contractile ring. In Drosophila S2 cells, we previously showed that myosin II is recruited to the furrow independently of F-actin, and that Rho1 and Rok are essential for this recruitment [1]. Rok phosphorylates several cellular proteins, including the myosin regulatory light chain (RLC).Here we express phosphorylation state mimic constructs of the RLC in S2 cells to examine the role of RLC phosphorylation involving Rok in the localization of myosin. Phosphorylation of the RLC is required for myosin localization to the equatorial cortex during mitosis, and the essential role of Rok in this localization and for cytokinesis is to maintain phosphorylation of the RLC. The ability to regulate the RLC phosphorylation state spatio-temporally is not essential for the myosin localization. Furthermore, the essential role of Citron in cytokinesis is not phosphorylation of the RLC.We conclude that the Rho1 pathway leading to myosin localization to the future cytokinetic furrow is relatively straightforward, where only Rok is needed, and it is only needed to maintain phosphorylation of the myosin RLC.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0000131

    View details for Web of Science ID 000207443700025

    View details for PubMedID 17205135

  • Molecular motors take tension in stride CELL Spudich, J. A. 2006; 126 (2): 242-244


    Mechanical tension controls the function of a wide variety of eukaryotic motor proteins. Single-molecule analyses have revealed how some of these proteins sense and respond to tension. The single motor studies on dynein by Reck-Peterson et al (2006) described in this issue pave the way to understand molecular mechanisms used by this unique machine.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2006.07.009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000239552600008

    View details for PubMedID 16873054

  • A non-Gaussian distribution quantifies distances measured with fluorescence localization techniques BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL Churchman, L. S., Flyvbjerg, H., Spudich, J. A. 2006; 90 (2): 668-671


    When single-molecule fluorescence localization techniques are pushed to their lower limits in attempts to measure ever-shorter distances, measurement errors become important to understand. Here we describe the non-Gaussian distribution of measured distances that is the key to proper interpretation of distance measurements. We test it on single-molecule high-resolution colocalization data for a known distance, 10 nm, and find that it gives the correct result, whereas interpretation of the same data with a Gaussian distribution gives a result that is systematically too large.

    View details for DOI 10.1529/biophysj.105.065599

    View details for Web of Science ID 000234252100027

    View details for PubMedID 16258038

  • A force-dependent state controls the coordination of processive myosin V PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Purcell, T. J., Sweeney, H. L., Spudich, J. A. 2005; 102 (39): 13873-13878


    Myosin V is an efficient processive molecular motor. Recent experiments have shown how the structure and kinetics of myosin V are specialized to produce a highly processive motor capable of taking multiple 36-nm steps on an actin filament track. Here, we examine how two identical heads coordinate their activity to produce efficient hand-over-hand stepping. We have used a modified laser-trap microscope to apply a approximately 2-pN forward or backward force on a single-headed myosin V molecule, hypothesized to simulate forces experienced by the rear or lead head, respectively. We found that pulling forward produces only a small change in the kinetics, whereas pulling backward induces a large reduction in the cycling of the head. These results support a model in which the coordination of myosin V stepping is mediated by strain-generated inhibition of the lead head.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0506441102

    View details for Web of Science ID 000232231900031

    View details for PubMedID 16150709

  • Distinct pathways control recruitment and maintenance of myosin II at the cleavage furrow during cytokinesis PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Dean, S. O., Rogers, S. L., Stuurman, N., Vale, R. D., Spudich, J. A. 2005; 102 (38): 13473-13478


    The correct localization of myosin II to the equatorial cortex is crucial for proper cell division. Here, we examine a collection of genes that cause defects in cytokinesis and reveal with live cell imaging two distinct phases of myosin II localization. Three genes in the rho1 signaling pathway, pebble (a Rho guanidine nucleotide exchange factor), rho1, and rho kinase, are required for the initial recruitment of myosin II to the equatorial cortex. This initial localization mechanism does not require F-actin or the two components of the centralspindlin complex, the mitotic kinesin pavarotti/MKLP1 and racGAP50c/CYK-4. However, F-actin, the centralspindlin complex, formin (diaphanous), and profilin (chickadee) are required to stably maintain myosin II at the furrow. In the absence of these latter genes, myosin II delocalizes from the equatorial cortex and undergoes highly dynamic appearances and disappearances around the entire cell cortex, sometimes associated with abnormal contractions or blebbing. Our findings support a model in which a rho kinase-dependent event, possibly myosin II regulatory light chain phosphorylation, is required for the initial recruitment to the furrow, whereas the assembly of parallel, unbranched actin filaments, generated by formin-mediated actin nucleation, is required for maintaining myosin II exclusively at the equatorial cortex.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0506810102

    View details for Web of Science ID 000232115100023

    View details for PubMedID 16174742

  • A flexible domain is essential for the large step size and processivity of myosin VI MOLECULAR CELL Rock, R. S., Ramamurthy, B., Dunn, A. R., Beccafico, S., Rami, B. R., Morris, C., Spink, B. J., Franzini-Armstrong, C., Spudich, J. A., Sweeney, H. L. 2005; 17 (4): 603-609


    Myosin VI moves processively along actin with a larger step size than expected from the size of the motor. Here, we show that the proximal tail (the approximately 80-residue segment following the IQ domain) is not a rigid structure but, rather, a flexible domain that permits the heads to separate. With a GCN4 coiled coil inserted in the proximal tail, the heads are closer together in electron microscopy (EM) images, and the motor takes shorter processive steps. Single-headed myosin VI S1 constructs take nonprocessive 12 nm steps, suggesting that most of the processive step is covered by a diffusive search for an actin binding site. Based on these results, we present a mechanical model that describes stepping under an applied load.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2005.01.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000227143400016

    View details for PubMedID 15721263

  • Single molecule high-resolution colocalization of Cy3 and Cy5 attached to macromolecules measures intramolecular distances through time PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Churchman, L. S., Okten, Z., Rock, R. S., Dawson, J. F., Spudich, J. A. 2005; 102 (5): 1419-1423


    Here we present a technique called single-molecule high-resolution colocalization (SHREC) of fluorescent dyes that allows the measurement of interfluorophore distances in macromolecules and macromolecular complexes with better than 10-nm resolution. By using two chromatically differing fluorescent molecules as probes, we are able to circumvent the Rayleigh criterion and measure distances much smaller than 250 nm. The probes are imaged separately and localized individually with high precision. The registration between the two imaging channels is measured by using fiduciary markers, and the centers of the two probes are mapped onto the same space. Multiple measurements can be made before the fluorophores photobleach, allowing intramolecular and intermolecular distances to be tracked through time. This technique's lower resolution limit lies at the upper resolution limit of single molecule FRET (smFRET) microscopy. The instrumentation and fluorophores used for SHREC can also be used for smFRET, allowing the two types of measurements to be made interchangeably, covering a wide range of interfluorophore distances. A dual-labeled duplex DNA molecule (30 bp) was used as a 10-nm molecular ruler to confirm the validity of the method. We also used SHREC to study the motion of myosin V. We directly observed myosin V's alternating heads while it walked hand-over-hand along an actin filament.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0409487102

    View details for Web of Science ID 000226877300032

    View details for PubMedID 15668396

  • A mitotic kinesin-like protein required for normal karyokinesis, myosin localization to the furrow, and cytokinesis in Dictyostelium PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Lakshmikanth, G. S., Warrick, H. M., Spudich, J. A. 2004; 101 (47): 16519-16524


    Dictyostelium mitotic kinesin Kif12 is required for cytokinesis. Myosin II localization to the cleavage furrow is severely depressed in Kif12-null (Deltakif12) cells, which accounts in part for the cytokinesis failure. Myosin II-null cells, however, undergo mitosis-coupled cytokinesis when adhering to a surface, whereas the Deltakif12 cells cannot. During mitosis, the rate of change of internuclear separation in Deltakif12 cells is reduced compared with wild-type cells, indicating multiple roles of this molecular motor during mitosis and cytokinesis. GFP-Kif12, which rescues wild-type behavior when expressed in the Deltakif12 strain, is concentrated in the nucleus in interphase cells, translocates to the cytoplasm at the onset of mitosis, appears in the centrosomes and spindle, and later is concentrated in the spindle midbody. Given these results, we hypothesize a mechanism for myosin II translocation to the furrow to set up the contractile ring.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0407304101

    View details for Web of Science ID 000225347400027

    View details for PubMedID 15546981

  • Two important polymers cross paths PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Spudich, J. A. 2004; 101 (45): 15825-15826

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0406932101

    View details for Web of Science ID 000225196800001

    View details for PubMedID 15522968

  • Dictyostelium myosin bipolar thick filament formation: Importance of charge and specific domains of the myosin rod PLOS BIOLOGY Hostetter, D., Rice, S., Dean, S., Altman, D., McMahon, P. M., Sutton, S., Tripathy, A., Spudich, J. A. 2004; 2 (11): 1880-1892


    Myosin-II thick filament formation in Dictyostelium is an excellent system for investigating the phenomenon of self-assembly, as the myosin molecule itself contains all the information required to form a structure of defined size. Phosphorylation of only three threonine residues can dramatically change the assembly state of myosin-II. We show here that the C-terminal 68 kDa of the myosin-II tail (termed AD-Cterm) assembles in a regulated manner similar to full-length myosin-II and forms bipolar thick filament (BTF) structures when a green fluorescent protein (GFP) "head" is added to the N terminus. The localization of this GFP-AD-Cterm to the cleavage furrow of dividing Dictyostelium cells depends on assembly state, similar to full-length myosin-II. This tail fragment therefore represents a good model system for the regulated formation and localization of BTFs. By reducing regulated BTF assembly to a more manageable model system, we were able to explore determinants of myosin-II self-assembly. Our data support a model in which a globular head limits the size of a BTF, and the large-scale charge character of the AD-Cterm region is important for BTF formation. Truncation analysis of AD-Cterm tail fragments shows that assembly is delicately balanced, resulting in assembled myosin-II molecules that are poised to disassemble due to the phosphorylation of only three threonines.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020356

    View details for Web of Science ID 000225160300018

    View details for PubMedID 15492777

  • Myosin VI walks hand-over-hand along actin NATURE STRUCTURAL & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Okten, Z., Churchman, L. S., Rock, R. S., Spudich, J. A. 2004; 11 (9): 884-887


    Myosin VI is a molecular motor that can walk processively on actin filaments with a 36-nm step size. The walking mechanism of myosin VI is controversial because it takes very large steps without an apparent lever arm of required length. Therefore, myosin VI is argued to be the first exception to the widely established lever arm theory. It is therefore critical to directly demonstrate whether this motor walks hand-over-hand along actin despite its short lever arm. Here, we follow the displacement of a single myosin VI head during the stepping process. A single head is displaced 72 nm during stepping, whereas the center of mass previously has been shown to move 36 nm. The most likely explanation for this result is a hand-over-hand walking mechanism. We hypothesize the existence of a flexible element that would allow the motor to bridge the observed 72-nm distance.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nsmb815

    View details for Web of Science ID 000223540200023

    View details for PubMedID 15286724

  • The mechanism of myosin VI translocation an its load-induced anchoring CELL Altman, D., Sweeney, H. L., Spudich, J. A. 2004; 116 (5): 737-749


    Myosin VI is thought to function as both a transporter and an anchor. While in vitro studies suggest possible mechanisms for processive stepping, a biochemical basis for anchoring has not been demonstrated. Using optical trapping, we observed myosin VI stepping against applied forces. Step size is not strongly affected by such loads. At saturating ATP, myosin VI kinetics shows little dependence on load until, at forces near stall, its stepping slows dramatically as load increases. At subsaturating ATP or in the presence of ADP, stepping kinetics is significantly inhibited by load. From our results, we propose a mechanism of myosin VI stepping that predicts a regulation through load of the motor's roles as transporter and anchor.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000221499700013

    View details for PubMedID 15006355

  • Structure of an F-actin trimer disrupted by gelsolin and implications for the mechanism of severing JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Dawson, J. F., Sablin, E. P., Spudich, J. A., Fletterick, R. J. 2003; 278 (2): 1229-1238


    Stable oligomers of filamentous actin were obtained by cross-linking F-actin with 1,4-N,N'-phenylenedimaleimide and depolymerization with excess segment-1 of gelsolin. Segment-1-bound and cross-linked actin oligomers containing either two or three actin subunits were purified and shown to nucleate actin assembly. Kinetic assembly data from mixtures of monomeric actin and the actin oligomers fit a nucleation model where cross-linked actin dimer or trimer reacts with an actin monomer to produce a competent nucleus for filament assembly. We report the three-dimensional structure of the segment-1-actin hexamer containing three actin subunits, each with a tightly bound ATP. Comparative analysis of this structure with twelve other actin structures provides an atomic level explanation for the preferential binding of ATP by the segment-1-complexed actin. Although the structure of segment-1-bound actin trimer is topologically similar to the helical model of F-actin (1), it has a distorted symmetry compared with that of the helical model. This distortion results from intercalation of segment-1 between actin protomers that increase the rise per subunit and rotate each of the actin subunits relative to their positions in F-actin. We also show that segment-1 of gelsolin is able to sever actin filaments, although the severing activity of segment-1 is significantly lower than full-length gelsolin.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M209160200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180321900070

    View details for PubMedID 12356759

  • Building and using optical traps to study properties of molecular motors BIOPHOTONICS, PT B Rice, S. E., Purcell, T. J., Spudich, J. A. 2003; 361: 112-133

    View details for Web of Science ID 000181447900006

    View details for PubMedID 12624909

  • Role of the lever arm in the processive stepping of myosin V PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Purcell, T. J., Morris, C., Spudich, J. A., Sweeney, H. L. 2002; 99 (22): 14159-14164


    Myosin V is a two-headed molecular motor that binds six light chains per heavy chain, which creates unusually long lever arms. This motor moves processively along its actin track in discrete 36-nm steps. Our model is that one head of the two-headed myosin V tightly binds to actin and swings its long lever arm through a large angle, providing a stroke. We created single-headed constructs with different-size lever arms and show that stroke size is proportional to lever arm length. In a two-headed molecule, the stroke provides the directional bias, after which the unbound head diffuses to find its binding site, 36 nm forward. Our two-headed construct with all six light chains per head reconstitutes the 36-nm processive step seen in tissue-purified myosin V. Two-headed myosin V molecules with only four light chains per head are still processive, but their step size is reduced to 24 nm. A further reduction in the length of the lever arms to one light chain per head results in a motor that is unable to walk processively. This motor produces single small approximately 6-nm strokes, and ATPase and pyrene actin quench measurements show that only one of the heads of this dimer rapidly binds to actin for a given binding event. These data show that for myosin V with its normal proximal tail domain, both heads and a long lever arm are required for large, processive steps.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000178967400037

    View details for PubMedID 12386339

  • Differential localization in cells of myosin II heavy chain kinases cytokinesis and polarized migration BMC CELL BIOLOGY Liang, W. C., Licate, L. S., Warrick, H. M., Spudich, J. A., Egelhoff, T. T. 2002; 3


    Cortical myosin-II filaments in Dictyostelium discoideum display enrichment in the posterior of the cell during cell migration, and in the cleavage furrow during cytokinesis. Filament assembly in turn is regulated by phosphorylation in the tail region of the myosin heavy chain (MHC). Early studies have revealed one enzyme, MHCK-A, which participates in filament assembly control, and two other structurally related enzymes, MHCK-B and -C. In this report we evaluate the biochemical properties of MHCK-C, and using fluorescence microscopy in living cells we examine the localization of GFP-labeled MHCK-A, -B, and -C in relation to GFP-myosin-II localization.Biochemical analysis indicates that MHCK-C can phosphorylate MHC with concomitant disassembly of myosin II filaments. In living cells, GFP-MHCK-A displayed frequent enrichment in the anterior of polarized migrating cells, and in the polar region but not the furrow during cytokinesis. GFP-MHCK-B generally displayed a homogeneous distribution. In migrating cells GFP-MHCK-C displayed posterior enrichment similar to that of myosin II, but did not localize with myosin II to the furrow during the early stage of cytokinesis. At the late stage of cytokinesis, GFP-MHCK-C became strongly enriched in the cleavage furrow, remaining there through completion of division.MHCK-A, -B, and -C display distinct cellular localization patterns suggesting different cellular functions and regulation for each MHCK isoform. The strong localization of MHCK-C to the cleavage furrow in the late stages of cell division may reflect a mechanism by which the cell regulates the progressive removal of myosin II as furrowing progresses.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000177253700001

    View details for PubMedID 12139770

  • Dynacortin is a novel actin bundling protein that localizes to dynamic actin structures JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Robinson, D. N., Ocon, S. S., Rock, R. S., Spudich, J. A. 2002; 277 (11): 9088-9095


    Dynacortin is a novel protein that was discovered in a genetic suppressor screen of a Dictyostelium discoideum cytokinesis-deficient mutant cell line devoid of the cleavage furrow actin bundling protein, cortexillin I. While dynacortin is highly enriched in the cortex, particularly in cell-surface protrusions, it is excluded from the cleavage furrow cortex during cytokinesis. Here, we describe the biochemical characterization of this new protein. Purified dynacortin is an 80-kDa dimer with a large 5.7-nm Stokes radius. Dynacortin cross-links actin filaments into parallel arrays with a mole ratio of one dimer to 1.3 actin monomers and a 3.1 microm K(d). Using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, GFP-dynacortin and the actin bundling protein coronin-GFP are seen to concentrate in highly dynamic cortical structures with assembly and disassembly half-lives of about 15 s. These results indicate that cells have evolved different actin-filament cross-linking proteins with complementary cellular distributions that collaborate to orchestrate complex cell shape changes.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M112144200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000174400600048

    View details for PubMedID 11782490

  • Quantitation of the distribution and flux of myosin-II during cytokinesis BMC CELL BIOLOGY Robinson, D. N., Cavet, G., Warrick, H. M., Spudich, J. A. 2002; 3


    During cytokinesis, the cell's equator contracts against the cell's global stiffness. Identifying the biochemical basis for these mechanical parameters is essential for understanding how cells divide. To achieve this goal, the distribution and flux of the cell division machinery must be quantified. Here we report the first quantitative analysis of the distribution and flux of myosin-II, an essential element of the contractile ring.The fluxes of myosin-II in the furrow cortex, the polar cortex, and the cytoplasm were examined using ratio imaging of GFP fusion proteins expressed in Dictyostelium. The peak concentration of GFP-myosin-II in the furrow cortex is 1.8-fold higher than in the polar cortex and 2.0-fold higher than in the cytoplasm. The myosin-II in the furrow cortex, however, represents only 10% of the total cellular myosin-II. An estimate of the minimal amount of this motor needed to produce the required force for cell cleavage fits well with this 10% value. The cell may, therefore, regulate the amount of myosin-II sent to the furrow cortex in accordance with the amount needed there. Quantitation of the distribution and flux of a mutant myosin-II that is defective in phosphorylation-dependent thick filament disassembly confirms that heavy chain phosphorylation regulates normal recruitment to the furrow cortex.The analysis indicates that myosin-II flux through the cleavage furrow cortex is regulated by thick filament phosphorylation. Further, the amount of myosin-II observed in the furrow cortex is in close agreement with the amount predicted to be required from a simple theoretical analysis.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000173744900001

    View details for PubMedID 11860600

  • Myosin VI is a processive motor with a large step size PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Rock, R. S., Rice, S. E., Wells, A. L., Purcell, T. J., Spudich, J. A., Sweeney, H. L. 2001; 98 (24): 13655-13659


    Myosin VI is a molecular motor involved in intracellular vesicle and organelle transport. To carry out its cellular functions myosin VI moves toward the pointed end of actin, backward in relation to all other characterized myosins. Myosin V, a motor that moves toward the barbed end of actin, is processive, undergoing multiple catalytic cycles and mechanical advances before it releases from actin. Here we show that myosin VI is also processive by using single molecule motility and optical trapping experiments. Remarkably, myosin VI takes much larger steps than expected, based on a simple lever-arm mechanism, for a myosin with only one light chain in the lever-arm domain. Unlike other characterized myosins, myosin VI stepping is highly irregular with a broad distribution of step sizes.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000172328100035

    View details for PubMedID 11707568

  • The myosin relay helix to converter interface remains intact throughout the actomyosin ATPase cycle JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Shih, W. M., Spudich, J. A. 2001; 276 (22): 19491-19494


    Crystal structures of the myosin motor domain in the presence of different nucleotides show the lever arm domain in two basic angular states, postulated to represent prestroke and poststroke states, respectively (Rayment, I. (1996) J. Biol. Chem. 271, 15850-15853; Dominguez, R., Freyzon, Y., Trybus, K. M., and Cohen, C. (1998) Cell 94, 559-571). Contact is maintained between two domains, the relay and the converter, in both of these angular states. Therefore it has been proposed by Dominguez et al. (cited above) that this contact is critical for mechanically driving the angular change of the lever arm domain. However, structural information is lacking on whether this contact is maintained throughout the actin-activated myosin ATPase cycle. To test the functional importance of this interdomain contact, we introduced cysteines into the sequence of a "cysteine-light" myosin motor at position 499 on the lower cleft and position 738 on the converter domain (Shih, W. M., Gryczynski, Z., Lakowicz, J. L., and Spudich, J. A. (2000) Cell 102, 683-694). Disulfide cross-linking could be induced. The cross-link had minimal effects on actin binding, ATP-induced actin release, and actin-activated ATPase. These results demonstrate that the relay/converter interface remains intact in the actin strongly bound state of myosin and throughout the entire actin-activated myosin ATPase cycle.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000169091000111

    View details for PubMedID 11278776

  • The myosin swinging cross-bridge model NATURE REVIEWS MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY Spudich, J. A. 2001; 2 (5): 387-392


    No biological system has been studied by more diverse approaches than the actin-based molecular motor myosin. Biophysics, biochemistry, physiology, classical genetics and molecular genetics have all made their contributions, and myosin is now becoming one of the best-understood enzymes in biology.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000168708800019

    View details for PubMedID 11331913

  • A myosin II mutation uncouples ATPase activity from motility and shortens step size NATURE CELL BIOLOGY Murphy, C. T., Rock, R. S., Spudich, J. A. 2001; 3 (3): 311-315


    It is thought that Switch II of myosin, kinesin and G proteins has an important function in relating nucleotide state to protein conformation. Here we examine a myosin mutant containing an S456L substitution in the Switch II region. In this protein, mechanical activity is uncoupled from the chemical energy of ATP hydrolysis so that its gliding velocity on actin filaments is only one-tenth of that of the wild type. The mutant spends longer in the strongly bound state and exhibits a shorter step size, which together account for the reduction in in vitro velocity. This is the first single point mutation in myosin that has been found to affect step size.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000167365800020

    View details for PubMedID 11231583

  • In vitro assays of processive myosin motors METHODS Rock, R. S., Rief, M., Mehta, A. D., Spudich, J. A. 2000; 22 (4): 373-381


    Myosin V is an actin-based motor thought to be involved in vesicle transport. Since the properties of such a motor may be expected to differ from those of muscle myosin II, we have examined myosin V-driven movement using a combination of gliding filament and optical trap assays to observe single molecules with high resolution. The results clearly demonstrate that brain myosin V is a highly efficient processive motor. In vitro motility assays at low myosin V densities reveal apparent single-molecule supported movement. Processive stepping was also observed in optical trapping assays of myosin V-driven motion. Here the methods that were used to demonstrate the processivity of myosin V are described. These methods include density-dependent assays that eliminate the possibility of aggregation or chance colocalization of multiple motors being responsible for apparent single-molecule motility. Such assays will be useful tools for identifying other processive classes of myosins.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000166350700010

    View details for PubMedID 11133243

  • A FRET-based sensor reveals large ATP hydrolysis-induced conformational changes and three distinct states of the molecular motor myosin CELL Shih, W. M., Gryczynski, Z., Lakowicz, J. R., Spudich, J. A. 2000; 102 (5): 683-694


    The molecular motor myosin is proposed to bind to actin and swing its light-chain binding region through a large angle to produce an approximately 10 nm step in motion coupled to changes in the nucleotide state at the active site. To date, however, direct dynamic measurements have largely failed to show changes of that magnitude. Here, we use a cysteine engineering approach to create a high resolution, FRET-based sensor that reports a large, approximately 70 degree nucleotide-dependent angle change of the light-chain binding region. The combination of steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements unexpectedly reveals two distinct prestroke states. The measurements also show that bound Mg.ADP.Pi, and not bound Mg.ATP, induces the myosin to adopt the prestroke states.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000089105200016

    View details for PubMedID 11007486

  • Dynacortin, a genetic link between equatorial contractility and global shape control discovered by library complementation of a Dictyostelium discoideum cytokinesis mutant JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Robinson, D. N., Spudich, J. A. 2000; 150 (4): 823-838


    We have developed a system for performing interaction genetics in Dictyostelium discoideum that uses a cDNA library complementation/multicopy suppression strategy. Chemically mutagenized cells were screened for cytokinesis-deficient mutants and one mutant was subjected to library complementation. Isolates of four different genes were recovered as modifiers of this strain's cytokinesis defect. These include the cleavage furrow protein cortexillin I, a novel protein we named dynacortin, an ezrin-radixin-moesin-family protein, and coronin. The cortexillin I locus and transcript were found to be disrupted in the strain, identifying it as the affected gene. Dynacortin is localized partly to the cell cortex and becomes enriched in protrusive regions, a localization pattern that is similar to coronin and partly dependent on RacE. During cytokinesis, dynacortin is found in the cortex and is somewhat enriched at the poles. Furthermore, it appears to be reduced in the cleavage furrow. The genetic interactions and the cellular distributions of the proteins suggest a hypothesis for cytokinesis in which the contraction of the medial ring is a function of spatially restricted cortexillin I and myosin II and globally distributed dynacortin, coronin, and RacE.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000088952500012

    View details for PubMedID 10953006

  • Myosin-V stepping kinetics: A molecular model for processivity PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Rief, M., Rock, R. S., Mehta, A. D., Mooseker, M. S., Cheney, R. E., Spudich, J. A. 2000; 97 (17): 9482-9486


    Myosin-V is a molecular motor that moves processively along its actin track. We have used a feedback-enhanced optical trap to examine the stepping kinetics of this movement. By analyzing the distribution of time periods separating discrete approximately 36-nm mechanical steps, we characterize the number and duration of rate-limiting biochemical transitions preceding each such step. These data show that myosin-V is a tightly coupled motor whose cycle time is limited by ADP release. On the basis of these results, we propose a model for myosin-V processivity.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000088840500028

    View details for PubMedID 10944217

  • Towards a molecular understanding of cytokinesis TRENDS IN CELL BIOLOGY Robinson, D. N., Spudich, J. A. 2000; 10 (6): 228-237


    In this review, we focus on recent discoveries regarding the molecular basis of cleavage furrow positioning and contractile ring assembly and contraction during cytokinesis. However, some of these mechanisms might have different degrees of importance in different organisms. This synthesis attempts to uncover common themes and to reveal potential relationships that might contribute to the biochemical and mechanical aspects of cytokinesis. Because the information about cytokinesis is still fairly rudimentary, our goal is not to present a definitive model but to present testable hypotheses that might lead to a better mechanistic understanding of the process.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000087147000003

    View details for PubMedID 10802538

  • Variable surface loops and myosin activity: Accessories to a motor JOURNAL OF MUSCLE RESEARCH AND CELL MOTILITY Murphy, C. T., Spudich, J. A. 2000; 21 (2): 139-151


    The catalytic head of myosin is a globular structure that has historically been divided into three segments of 25, 50, and 20 kDa. The solvent-exposed, proteolytically-sensitive surface loops of myosin that join these three segments are highly variable in their sequences. While surface loops have not traditionally been thought to affect enzymatic activities, these loops lie near the ATP and actin-binding sites and have been implicated in the modulation of myosin's kinetic activities. In this work we review the wealth of data regarding the loops that has accumulated over the years and discuss the roles of the loops in contributing to the different activities displayed by different myosin isoforms.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000087600000004

    View details for PubMedID 10961838

  • Mutational analysis of phosphorylation sites in the Dictyostelium myosin II tail: disruption of myosin function by a single charge change FEBS LETTERS Nock, S., Liang, W. C., Warrick, H. M., Spudich, J. A. 2000; 466 (2-3): 267-272


    The dynamic assembly/disassembly of non-muscle myosin II filaments is critical for the regulation of enzymatic activities and localization. Phosphorylation of three threonines, 1823, 1833 and 2029, in the tail of Dictyostelium discoideum myosin II has been implicated in control of myosin filament assembly. By systematically replacing the three threonines to aspartates, mimicking a phosphorylated residue, we found that position 1823 is the most critical one for the regulation of myosin filament formation and in vivo function. Surprisingly, a single charge change is able to perturb filament formation and in vivo function of myosin II.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000085122200013

    View details for PubMedID 10682841

  • A structural model for phosphorylation control of Dictyostelium myosin II thick filament assembly JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Liang, W. C., Warrick, H. M., Spudich, J. A. 1999; 147 (5): 1039-1047


    Myosin II thick filament assembly in Dictyostelium is regulated by phosphorylation at three threonines in the tail region of the molecule. Converting these three threonines to aspartates (3 x Asp myosin II), which mimics the phosphorylated state, inhibits filament assembly in vitro, and 3 x Asp myosin II fails to rescue myosin II-null phenotypes. Here we report a suppressor screen of Dictyostelium myosin II-null cells containing 3 x Asp myosin II, which reveals a 21-kD region in the tail that is critical for the phosphorylation control. These data, combined with new structural evidence from electron microscopy and sequence analyses, provide evidence that thick filament assembly control involves the folding of myosin II into a bent monomer, which is unable to incorporate into thick filaments. The data are consistent with a structural model for the bent monomer in which two specific regions of the tail interact to form an antiparallel tetrameric coiled-coil structure.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000083995800016

    View details for PubMedID 10579723

  • Myosin-V is a processive actin-based motor NATURE Mehta, A. D., Rock, R. S., Rief, M., Spudich, J. A., Mooseker, M. S., Cheney, R. E. 1999; 400 (6744): 590-593


    Class-V myosins, one of 15 known classes of actin-based molecular motors, have been implicated in several forms of organelle transport, perhaps working with microtubule-based motors such as kinesin. Such movements may require a motor with mechanochemical properties distinct from those of myosin-II, which operates in large ensembles to drive high-speed motility as in muscle contraction. Based on its function and biochemistry, it has been suggested that myosin-V may be a processive motor like kinesin. Processivity means that the motor undergoes multiple catalytic cycles and coupled mechanical advances for each diffusional encounter with its track. This allows single motors to support movement of an organelle along its track. Here we provide direct evidence that myosin-V is indeed a processive actin-based motor that can move in large steps approximating the 36-nm pseudo-repeat of the actin filament.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000081854800062

    View details for PubMedID 10448864

  • Biomechanics, one molecule at a time JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Mehta, A. D., Rief, M., Spudich, J. A. 1999; 274 (21): 14517-14520

    View details for Web of Science ID 000081965200002

    View details for PubMedID 10329637

  • The sequence of the myosin 50-20K loop affects myosin's affinity for actin throughout the actin-myosin ATPase cycle and its maximum ATPase activity BIOCHEMISTRY Murphy, C. T., Spudich, J. A. 1999; 38 (12): 3785-3792


    We are interested in the role that solvent-exposed, proteolytically sensitive surface loops play in myosin function. The 25-50K loop, or loop 1, is near the ATP binding site, while the 50-20K loop (loop 2) is in the actin binding site. Through chimeric studies, we have found that loop 1 affects ADP release [Murphy, C. T., and Spudich, J. A. (1998) Biochemistry 37, 6738-44], while loop 2 affects the actin-activated ATPase activity [Uyeda, T. Q.-P., et al. (1994) Nature 368, 567-9]. In the study described here, we have found that the kcat of the actin-activated ATPase activity is changed by the loop 2 substitutions in a manner that reflects the relative actin-activated ATPase activities of the donor myosins. Additionally, changes in loop 2 affect the affinity of myosin for actin both in the presence and in the absence of nucleotides. Pre-steady-state studies together with the ATPase and affinity data suggest that while loop 2 does not affect interactions between myosin and nucleotide, it plays a role in determining the affinity of myosin for actin in various nucleotide states and in the rate-limiting transition allowing phosphate release.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000079510700038

    View details for PubMedID 10090768

  • Specialized conservation of surface loops of myosin: Evidence that loops are involved in determining functional characteristics JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Goodson, H. V., Warrick, H. M., Spudich, J. A. 1999; 287 (1): 173-185


    The molecular motor myosin has been the focus of considerable structure-function analysis. Of key interest are the portions of the protein that control the rate of ATP hydrolysis, the affinity for actin, and the velocity at which myosin moves actin. Two regions that have been implicated in determining these parameters are the "loop" regions at the junctions of the 25 kDa and 50 kDa domains and the 50 kDa and 20 kDa domains of the protein. However, the sequences of these regions are poorly conserved between different myosin families, suggesting that they are not constrained evolutionarily, and thus are relatively unimportant for myosin function. In order to address this apparent incongruity, we have performed an analysis of relative rates of observed evolutionary change. We found that the sequences of these loop regions appear to be actually more constrained than the sequences of the rest of the myosin molecule, when myosins are compared that are known to be kinetically or developmentally similar. This suggests that these loop regions could play an important role in myosin function and supports the idea that they are involved in modulating the specific kinetic characteristics that functionally differentiate one myosin isoform from another. Apparently "unconserved" loops may generally play a role in determining kinetic properties of enzymes, and similar analyses of relative rates of evolution may prove useful for the study of structure-function relationships in other protein families.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000079315400014

    View details for PubMedID 10074415

  • Single-molecule biomechanics with optical methods SCIENCE Mehta, A. D., Rief, M., Spudich, J. A., Smith, D. A., Simmons, R. M. 1999; 283 (5408): 1689-1695


    Single-molecule observation and manipulation have come of age. With the advent of optical tweezers and other methods for probing and imaging single molecules, investigators have circumvented the model-dependent extrapolation from ensemble assays that has been the hallmark of classical biochemistry and biophysics. In recent years, there have been important advances in the understanding of how motor proteins work. The range of these technologies has also started to expand into areas such as DNA transcription and protein folding. Here, recent experiments with rotary motors, linear motors, RNA polymerase, and titin are described.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000079102800040

    View details for PubMedID 10073927

  • Myosin II localization during cytokinesis occurs by a mechanism that does not require its motor domain PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Zang, J. H., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 95 (23): 13652-13657


    Myosin II generates force for the division of eukaryotic cells. The molecular basis of the spatial and temporal localization of myosin II to the cleavage furrow is unknown, although models often imply that interaction between myosin II and actin filaments is essential. We examined the localization of a chimeric protein that consists of the green fluorescent protein fused to the N terminus of truncated myosin II heavy chain in Dictyostelium cells. This chimera is missing the myosin II motor domain, and it does not bind actin filaments. Surprisingly, it still localizes to the cleavage furrow region during cytokinesis. These results indicate that myosin II localization during cytokinesis occurs through a mechanism that does not require it to be the force-generating element or to interact with actin filaments directly.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000076997000054

    View details for PubMedID 9811855

  • Nucleotide-dependent conformational change near the fulcrum region in Dictyostelium myosin II PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Liang, W. C., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 95 (22): 12844-12847


    In skeletal muscle myosin, the reactive thiols (SH1 and SH2) are close to a proposed fulcrum region that is thought to undergo a large conformational change. The reactive thiol region is thought to transmit the conformational changes induced by the actin-myosin-ATP interactions to the lever arm, which amplifies the power stroke. In skeletal muscle myosin, SH1 and SH2 can be chemically cross-linked in the presence of nucleotide, trapping the nucleotide in its pocket. Although the flexibility of the reactive thiol region has been well studied in skeletal muscle myosin, crystal structures of truncated nonmuscle myosin II from Dictyostelium in the presence of various ATP analogs do not show changes at the reactive thiol region that would be consistent with the SH1-SH2 cross-linking observed for muscle myosin. To examine the dynamics of the reactive thiol region in Dictyostelium myosin II, we have examined a modified myosin II that has cysteines at the muscle myosin SH1 and SH2 positions. This myosin is specifically cross-linked at SH1-SH2 by a chemical cross-linker in the presence of ADP, but not in its absence. Furthermore, the cross-linked species traps the nucleotide, as in the case of muscle myosin. Thus, the Dictyostelium myosin II shares the same dynamic behavior in the fulcrum region of the molecule as the skeletal muscle myosin. This result emphasizes the importance of nucleotide-dependent changes in this part of the molecule.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000076757300024

    View details for PubMedID 9789002

  • MLCK-A, an unconventional myosin light chain kinase from Dictyostelium, is activated by a cGMP-dependent pathway PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Silveira, L. A., Smith, J. L., Tan, J. L., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 95 (22): 13000-13005


    Dictyostelium myosin II is activated by phosphorylation of its regulatory light chain by myosin light chain kinase A (MLCK-A), an unconventional MLCK that is not regulated by Ca2+/calmodulin. MLCK-A is activated by autophosphorylation of threonine-289 outside of the catalytic domain and by phosphorylation of threonine-166 in the activation loop by an unidentified kinase, but the signals controlling these phosphorylations are unknown. Treatment of cells with Con A results in quantitative phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain by MLCK-A, providing an opportunity to study MLCK-A's activation mechanism. MLCK-A does not alter its cellular location upon treatment of cells with Con A, nor does it localize to the myosin-rich caps that form after treatment. However, MLCK-A activity rapidly increases 2- to 13-fold when Dictyostelium cells are exposed to Con A. This activation can occur in the absence of MLCK-A autophosphorylation. cGMP is a promising candidate for an intracellular messenger mediating Con A-triggered MLCK-A activation, as addition of cGMP to fresh Dictyostelium lysates increases MLCK-A activity 3- to 12-fold. The specific activity of MLCK-A in cGMP-treated lysates is 210-fold higher than that of recombinant MLCK-A, which is fully autophosphorylated, but lacks threonine-166 phosphorylation. Purified MLCK-A is not directly activated by cGMP, indicating that additional cellular factors, perhaps a kinase that phosphorylates threonine-166, are involved.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000076757300052

    View details for PubMedID 9789030

  • Kinetic characterization of myosin head fragments with long-lived myosin center dot ATP states BIOCHEMISTRY Friedman, A. L., Geeves, M. A., Manstein, D. J., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 37 (27): 9679-9687


    We have separately expressed the Dictyosteliumdiscoideum myosin II nonhydrolyzer point mutations E459V and E476K [Ruppel, K. M., and Spudich, J. A. (1996) Mol. Biol. Cell 7, 1123-1136] in the soluble myosin head fragment M761-1R [Anson et al. (1996) EMBO J. 15, 6069-6074] and performed transient kinetic analyses to characterize the ATPase cycles of the mutant proteins. While the mutations cause some changes in mantATP [2'(3')-O-(N-methylanthraniloyl)-ATP] and mantADP binding, the most dramatic effect is on the hydrolysis step of the ATPase cycle, which is reduced by 4 (E476K) and 6 (E459V) orders of magnitude. Thus, both mutant myosin constructs do in fact catalyze ATP hydrolysis but have very long-lived myosin.ATP states. The E459V mutation allowed for a direct measurement of the ATP off rate constant from myosin, which was found to be 2 x 10(-)5 s-1. Actin accelerated ATP release from this E459V construct by at least 100-fold. Additionally, we found that the affinity of the E476K construct for actin is significantly weaker than for the wild-type construct, while the E459V mutant interacts with actin normally. Their functional properties and the fact that they can be produced and purified in large amounts make the E476K and E459V constructs ideal tools to elucidate key structural features of the myosin ATPase cycle. These constructs should allow us to address important questions, including how binding of ATP to myosin heads results in a >3 order of magnitude reduction in actin affinity.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000074758600009

    View details for PubMedID 9657680

  • Single molecule biochemistry using optical tweezers FEBS LETTERS Mehta, A. D., Pullen, K. A., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 430 (1-2): 23-27


    The use of optical trapping to create extremely compliant mechanical probes has ushered in a new field of biological inquiry, the mechanical and kinetic study of proteins at the single molecule level. This review focuses on three examples of such study and includes methods of extracting parameters of interest from the raw data such experiments generate.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000074771700005

    View details for PubMedID 9678588

  • Conditional loss-of-myosin-II-function mutants reveal a position in the tail that is critical for filament nucleation MOLECULAR CELL Moores, S. L., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 1 (7): 1043-1050


    Myosin-II must be assembled into filaments to perform its cellular functions. Two conditional loss-of-myosin-II-function mutants were recovered from a previous genetic screen with defects that were mapped to the coiled-coil tail region of Dictyostelium myosin-II. Strikingly, both tail mutations affected the same arginine residue at position 1880. A single amino acid substitution, R1880P, disrupted both the dimerization and tetramerization steps of filament nucleation. Even a single charge reversal at this position, R1880D, was sufficient to inhibit filament assembly, while other single charge reversals in the region of antiparallel contract suppressed these filament assembly mutants. The considerable impact of small electrostatic forces on nucleation suggests that these steps are delicately balanced and easily reversible.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000074389200011

    View details for PubMedID 9651587

  • Dictyostelium myosin 25-50K loop substitutions specifically affect ADP release rates BIOCHEMISTRY Murphy, C. T., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 37 (19): 6738-6744


    While most of the sequence of myosin's motor domain is highly conserved among various organisms and tissue types, the junctions between the 25 and 50 kDa domains and the 50 and 20 kDa domains are strikingly divergent. The 50-20K loop is positioned to interact with actin, while the 25-50K loop is situated nearer the ATP binding site [Rayment, I., et al. (1993) Science 261, 50-58]. Chimeric studies of the 50-20K loop [Uyeda, T. Q.-P., et al. (1994) Nature 368, 567-569; Rovner, A. S., et al. (1995) J. Biol. Chem. 270 (51), 30260-30263] have shown that this loop affects actin activation of ATPase activity. Given the function of myosin as a molecular motor, it was proposed that the 25-50K loop might specifically alter ADP release [Spudich, J. A. (1994) Nature 374, 515-518]. Here we study the role of this loop by engineering chimeras containing the Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain with loops from two enzymatically diverse myosins, rabbit skeletal and Acanthamoeba. The chimeric myosins complement the myosin null phenotype in vivo, bind nucleotide normally, interact normally with actin, and display wild-type levels of actin-activated ATPase activity. However, the rate of ADP release from the myosins, normally the slowest step involved in motility, was changed in a manner that reflects the activity of the donor myosin. In summary, studies of Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain chimeras have shown that the 50-20K sequence specifically affects the actin-activated ATPase activity [Uyeda, T. Q.-P., et al. (1994)] while the 25-50K sequence helps determine the rate of ADP release.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000073797300013

    View details for PubMedID 9578557

  • Reflections of a lucid dreamer: Optical trap design considerations METHODS IN CELL BIOLOGY, VOL 55 Mehta, A. D., Finer, J. T., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 55: 47-69

    View details for Web of Science ID 000073062000004

    View details for PubMedID 9352511

  • Use of optical traps in single-molecule study of nonprocessive biological motors MOLECULAR MOTORS AND THE CYTOSKELETON, PT B Mehta, A. D., Finer, J. T., Spudich, J. A. 1998; 298: 436-459

    View details for Web of Science ID 000076246300037

    View details for PubMedID 9751902

  • On the role of myosin-II in cytokinesis: Division of Dictyostelium cells under adhesive and nonadhesive conditions MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL Zang, J. H., Cavet, G., Sabry, J. H., Wagner, P., Moores, S. L., Spudich, J. A. 1997; 8 (12): 2617-2629


    We have investigated the role of myosin in cytokinesis in Dictyostelium cells by examining cells under both adhesive and nonadhesive conditions. On an adhesive surface, both wild-type and myosin-null cells undergo the normal processes of mitotic rounding, cell elongation, polar ruffling, furrow ingression, and separation of daughter cells. When cells are denied adhesion through culturing in suspension or on a hydrophobic surface, wild-type cells undergo these same processes. However, cells lacking myosin round up and polar ruffle, but fail to elongate, furrow, or divide. These differences show that cell division can be driven by two mechanisms that we term Cytokinesis A, which requires myosin, and Cytokinesis B, which is cell adhesion dependent. We have used these approaches to examine cells expressing a myosin whose two light chain-binding sites were deleted (DeltaBLCBS-myosin). Although this myosin is a slower motor than wild-type myosin and has constitutively high activity due to the abolition of regulation by light-chain phosphorylation, cells expressing DeltaBLCBS-myosin were previously shown to divide in suspension (Uyeda et al., 1996). However, we suspected their behavior during cytokinesis to be different from wild-type cells given the large alteration in their myosin. Surprisingly, DeltaBLCBS-myosin undergoes relatively normal spatial and temporal changes in localization during mitosis. Furthermore, the rate of furrow progression in cells expressing a DeltaBLCBS-myosin is similar to that in wild-type cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997YK93000020

    View details for PubMedID 9398680

  • Myosin heavy chain phosphorylation sites regulate myosin localization during cytokinesis in live cells MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL Sabry, J. H., Moores, S. L., Ryan, S., Zang, J. H., Spudich, J. A. 1997; 8 (12): 2605-2615


    Conventional myosin II plays a fundamental role in the process of cytokinesis where, in the form of bipolar thick filaments, it is thought to be the molecular motor that generates the force necessary to divide the cell. In Dictyostelium, the formation of thick filaments is regulated by the phosphorylation of three threonine residues in the tail region of the myosin heavy chain. We report here on the effects of this regulation on the localization of myosin in live cells undergoing cytokinesis. We imaged fusion proteins of the green-fluorescent protein with wild-type myosin and with myosins where the three critical threonines had been changed to either alanine or aspartic acid. We provide evidence that thick filament formation is required for the accumulation of myosin in the cleavage furrow and that if thick filaments are overproduced, this accumulation is markedly enhanced. This suggests that myosin localization in dividing cells is regulated by myosin heavy chain phosphorylation.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997YK93000019

    View details for PubMedID 9398679

  • Reversible, site-specific immobilization of polyarginine-tagged fusion proteins on mica surfaces FEBS LETTERS Nock, S., Spudich, J. A., Wagner, P. 1997; 414 (2): 233-238


    A large variety of genes is expressed as fusion proteins for the purpose of characterization and purification in molecular biology. We have used this strategy to append polyarginine peptides in order to achieve specific binding of the Arg-tag to atomically flat, negatively charged mica surfaces. We show that the model protein, hexaarginine-tagged green fluorescent protein (GFP), binds to mica via its Arg-tag based on ion exchange of naturally occurring potassium cations. Only non-specific binding was observed with the control protein that is free of the Arg-tag. This novel technology will be widely applicable to orient functional proteins on flat surfaces.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XW75900012

    View details for PubMedID 9315692

  • Phenotypically selected mutations in myosin's actin binding domain demonstrate intermolecular contacts important for motor functions BIOCHEMISTRY Giese, K. C., Spudich, J. A. 1997; 36 (28): 8465-8473


    Here, we biochemically characterize Dictyostelium myosin II mutants that were previously phenotypically selected following random mutagenesis and shown to lie in the actin binding domain [Patterson, B., & Spudich, J. A. (1996) Genetics 143, 801-810]. We show that the conditional loss of myosin-dependent activity in vivo, which results from the mutations E531Q, P536R, and R562L, is likely due to the loss of important contacts with actin. Purified wild-type and mutant myosin subfragments 1 (S1), expressed in Dictyostelium, are alike in binding to actin and releasing it in an ATP-dependent manner. Furthermore, the rates of ATP hydrolysis without actin are similar for the mutant and wild-type S1s. Thus, the mutations in the actin binding site have little effect on ATP binding or product release in the absence of actin. All three mutants, however, have impaired actin-activated ATPase activity, with apparent second-order rate constants for actin interactions that are 4-25-fold smaller than that of wild-type S1 at 30 degrees C. The mutations also cause defects in the ability to move actin, as measured by in vitro motility assays of full-length myosins. On the basis of motility of a mixture of wild-type and mutant myosins, there appears to be at least two classes of mutations, with the primary defect in either a weak or a strong actin binding state. In summary, the activities in vitro of myosins with mutations in the actin binding site suggest losses of important contacts with actin.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XK85600005

    View details for PubMedID 9214290

  • Bioreactive self-assembled monolayers on hydrogen-passivated Si(111) as a new class of atomically flat substrates for biological scanning probe microscopy JOURNAL OF STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY Wagner, P., Nock, S., Spudich, J. A., VOLKMUTH, W. D., Chu, S., Cicero, R. L., Wade, C. P., Linford, M. R., Chidsey, C. E. 1997; 119 (2): 189-201


    This is the first report of bioreactive self-assembled monolayers, covalently bound to atomically flat silicon surfaces and capable of binding biomolecules for investigation by scanning probe microscopy and other surface-related assays and sensing devices. These monolayers are stable under a wide range of conditions and allow tailor-made functionalization for many purposes. We describe the substrate preparation and present an STM and SFM characterization, partly performed with multiwalled carbon nanotubes as tapping-mode supertips. Furthermore, we present two strategies of introducing in situ reactive headgroup functionalities. One method entails a free radical chlorosulfonation process with subsequent sulfonamide formation. A second method employs singlet carbenemediated hydrogen-carbon insertion of a heterobifunctional, amino-reactive trifluoromethyl-diazirinyl crosslinker. We believe that this new substrate is advantageous to others, because it (i) is atomically flat over large areas and can be prepared in a few hours with standard equipment, (ii) is stable under most conditions, (iii) can be modified to adjust a certain degree of reactivity and hydrophobicity, which allows physical adsorption or covalent crosslinking of the biological specimen, (iv) builds the bridge between semiconductor microfabrication and organic/biological molecular systems, and (v) is accessible to nanopatterning and applications requiring conductive substrates.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XN38200014

    View details for PubMedID 9245759

  • Activation of Dictyostelium myosin light chain kinase a by phosphorylation of Thr166 EMBO JOURNAL Smith, J. L., Silveira, L. A., Spudich, J. A. 1996; 15 (22): 6075-6083


    Phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain is an important mechanism for the activation of myosin in non-muscle cells. Unlike most myosin light chain kinases (MLCKs), MLCK-A from Dictyostelium is not activated by Ca2+/calmodulin. Autophosphorylation increases activity, but only to a low level, suggesting that there is an additional activation mechanism. Here, we show that MLCK-A is autophosphorylated on Thr289, which is C-terminal to the catalytic domain. Phosphorylation of MLCK-A increases in response to concanavalin A (conA) treatment of cells, which was previously shown to activate MLCK-A. However, a mutant kinase with an alanine at position 289 (T289A) is also phosphorylated in vivo, indicating that there is an additional phosphorylated residue. Based on comparisons with other protein kinases, we tested whether phosphorylation of Thr166 drives activation of MLCK-A. Our data indicate that phosphorylation of Thr289 occurs in vivo, but is not associated with conA-induced activation, whereas phosphorylation of Thr166 by some as yet unidentified kinase is associated with activation. Replacement of Thrl66 with glutamate results in a 12-fold increase in activity as compared with the wild-type enzyme, supporting the idea that phosphorylation of Thr166 increases MLCK-A activity.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VW41800008

    View details for PubMedID 8947030

  • Myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) gene disruption in Dictyostelium: A role for MLCK-A in cytokinesis and evidence for multiple MLCKs PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Smith, J. L., Silveira, L. A., Spudich, J. A. 1996; 93 (22): 12321-12326


    We have created a strain of Dictyostelium that is deficient for the Ca2+/calmodulin-independent MLCK-A. This strain undergoes cytokinesis less efficiently than wild type, which results in an increased frequency of multinucleate cells when grown in suspension. The MLCK-A-cells are able, however, to undergo development and to cap crosslinked surface receptors, processes that require myosin heavy chain. Phosphorylated regulatory light chain (RLC) is still present in MLCK-A-cells, indicating that Dictyostelium has one or more additional protein kinases capable of phosphorylating RLC. Concanavalin A treatment was found to induce phosphorylation of essentially all of the RLC in wild-type cells, but RLC phosphorylation levels in MLCK-A-cells are unaffected by concanavalin A. Thus MLCK-A is regulated separately from the other MLCK(s) in the cell.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VP93700050

    View details for PubMedID 8901579

  • The Dictyostelium dual-specificity kinase splA is essential for spore differentiation DEVELOPMENT Nuckolls, G. H., Osherov, N., Loomis, W. F., Spudich, J. A. 1996; 122 (10): 3295-3305


    We have studied the structure and function of the Dictyostelium kinase splA. A truncated form of the splA protein exhibited primarily tyrosine kinase activity in vitro; however, it also autophosphorylated on serine and threonine residues. The kinase domain of splA exhibits approximately 38% identity to the CTR1 kinase of Arabidopsis, which is a member of the Raf family. Outside its kinase domain, splA shares homology with the byr2 kinase of S. pombe. By aligning the sequences of splA, byr2 and STE11, a homologue of byr2 in S. cerevisiae, we have identified a conserved motif that is also found in members of the Eph family of growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases. SplA is expressed throughout development with a peak during the mound stage of morphogenesis. Strains in which the splA gene had been disrupted completed fruiting body formation; however, spore cells spontaneously lysed before completing their differentiation. Northern analysis revealed the expression of the prespore marker cotB and the prestalk markers ecmA and ecmB in the mutant strain during development. The spore differentiation marker spiA was detected in the mutant spores both by northern and immunoblotting, but these cells failed to assemble spore coats. Immunoblot analysis of the developmental pattern of tyrosine phosphorylation revealed a protein that was phosphorylated in mutants but was not phosphorylated in the wild-type cells. SplA is a novel dual specificity kinase that regulates the differentiation of spore cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VP65300032

    View details for PubMedID 8898241

  • Structure-function studies of the myosin motor domain: Importance of the 50-kDa cleft MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL Ruppel, K. M., Spudich, J. A. 1996; 7 (7): 1123-1136


    We used random mutagenesis to create 21 point mutations in a highly conserved region of the motor domain of Dictyostelium myosin and classified them into three distinct groups based on the ability to complement myosin null cell phenotypes: wild type, intermediate, and null. Biochemical analysis of the mutated myosins also revealed three classes of mutants that correlated well with the phenotypic classification. The mutated myosins that were not fully functional showed defects ranging from ATP nonhydrolyzers to myosins whose enzymatic and mechanical properties are uncoupled. Placement of the mutations onto the three-dimensional structure of myosin showed that the mutated region lay along the cleft that separates the active site from the actin-binding domain and that has been shown to move in response to changes at the active site. These results demonstrate that this region of myosin plays a key role in transduction of chemical energy to mechanical displacement.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996UX91800010

    View details for PubMedID 8862525

  • Cold-sensitive mutations of Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain highlight functional domains of the myosin motor GENETICS Patterson, B., Spudich, J. A. 1996; 143 (2): 801-810


    Dictyostelium provides a powerful environment for characterization of myosin II function. It provides well-established biochemical methods for in vitro analysis of myosin's properties as well as an array of molecular genetic tools. The absence of myosin function results in an array of phenotypes that can be used to genetically manipulate myosin function. We have previously reported methods for the isolation and identification of rapid-effect cold-sensitive myosin II mutations in Dictyostelium. Here, we report the development and utilization of a rapid method for localizing these point mutations. We have also sequenced 19 mutants. The mutations show distinct clustering with respect to three-dimensional location and biochemically characterized functional domains of the protein. We conclude that these mutants represent powerful tools for understanding the mechanisms driving this protein motor.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996UN68400016

    View details for PubMedID 8725228

  • Synthetic lethality screen identifies a novel yeast myosin I gene (MYO5): Myosin I proteins are required for polarization of the actin cytoskeleton JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Goodson, H. V., Anderson, B. L., Warrick, H. M., Pon, L. A., Spudich, J. A. 1996; 133 (6): 1277-1291


    The organization of the actin cytoskeleton plays a critical role in cell physiology in motile and nonmotile organisms. Nonetheless, the function of the actin based motor molecules, members of the myosin superfamily, is not well understood. Deletion of MYO3, a yeast gene encoding a "classic" myosin I, has no detectable phenotype. We used a synthetic lethality screen to uncover genes whose functions might overlap with those of MYO3 and identified a second yeast myosin 1 gene, MYO5. MYO5 shows 86 and 62% identity to MYO3 across the motor and non-motor regions. Both genes contain an amino terminal motor domain, a neck region containing two IQ motifs, and a tail domain consisting of a positively charged region, a proline-rich region containing sequences implicated in ATP-insensitive actin binding, and an SH3 domain. Although myo5 deletion mutants have no detectable phenotype, yeast strains deleted for both MYO3 and MYO5 have severe defects in growth and actin cytoskeletal organization. Double deletion mutants also display phenotypes associated with actin disorganization including accumulation of intracellular membranes and vesicles, cell rounding, random bud site selection, sensitivity to high osmotic strength, and low pH as well as defects in chitin and cell wall deposition, invertase secretion, and fluid phase endocytosis. Indirect immunofluorescence studies using epitope-tagged Myo5p indicate that Myo5p is localized at actin patches. These results indicate that MYO3 and MYO5 encode classical myosin I proteins with overlapping functions and suggest a role for Myo3p and Myo5p in organization of the actin cytoskeleton of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996UT40700011

    View details for PubMedID 8682864

  • Myosin dynamics iri live Dictyostelium cells PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Moores, S. L., Sabry, J. H., Spudich, J. A. 1996; 93 (1): 443-446


    Conventional myosin plays a key role in the cytoskeletal reorganization necessary for cytokinesis, migration, and morphological changes associated with development in nonmuscle cells. We have made a fusion between the green fluorescent protein (GFP) and the Dictyostelium discoideum myosin heavy chain (GFP-myosin). The unique Dictyostelium system allows us to test the GFP-tagged myosin for activity both in vivo and in vitro. Expression of GFP-myosin rescues all myosin null cell defects. Additionally, GFP-myosin purified from these cells exhibits the same ATPase activities and in vitro motility as wild-type myosin. GFP-myosin is concentrated in the cleavage furrow during cytokinesis and in the posterior cortex of migrating cells. Surprisingly, GFP-myosin concentration increases transiently in the tips of retracting pseudopods. Contrary to previous thinking, this suggests that conventional myosin may play an important role in the dynamics of pseudopods as well as filopodia, lamellipodia, and other cellular protrusions.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996TP36700088

    View details for PubMedID 8552657

  • Structure-function analysis of the motor domain of myosin ANNUAL REVIEW OF CELL AND DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY Ruppel, K. M., Spudich, J. A. 1996; 12: 543-573


    Motor proteins perform a wide variety of functions in all eukaryotic cells. Recent advances in the structural and mutagenic analysis of the myosin motor has led to insights into how these motors transduce chemical energy into mechanical work. This review focuses on the analysis of the effects of myosin mutations from a variety of organisms on the in vivo and in vitro properties of this ubiquitous motor and illustrates the positions of these mutations on the high-resolution three-dimensional structure of the myosin motor domain.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VY42800019

    View details for PubMedID 8970737



    We developed a positive selection for myosin heavy chain mutants in Dictyostelium. This selection is based on the fact that brief exposure to azide causes wild-type cells to release from the substrate, whereas myosin null cells remain adherent. This procedure assays myosin function on a time scale of minutes and has therefore allowed us to select rapid-onset cold-sensitive mutants after random chemical mutagenesis of Dictyostelium cells. We developed a rapid technique for determining which mutations lie in sequences of the myosin gene that encode the head (motor) domain and localized 27 of 34 mutants to this domain. We recovered the appropriate sequences from five of the mutants and demonstrated that they retain their cold-sensitive properties when expressed from extrachromosomal plasmids.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RA36600009

    View details for PubMedID 7498732

  • Characterization of single actin-myosin interactions. Biophysical journal Finer, J. T., Mehta, A. D., Spudich, J. A. 1995; 68 (4): 291S-296S


    The feedback-enhanced laser trap assay (Finer et al., 1994) allows the measurement of force and displacement produced by single myosin molecules interacting with an actin filament suspended in solution by two laser traps. The average displacement of 11 nm at low load and the average force of 4 pN near isometric conditions are consistent with the conventional swinging cross-bridge model of muscle contraction (Huxley, 1969). The durations of single actin-myosin interactions at low load, 3-7 ms, suggest a relatively small duty ratio. Event durations can be increased either by reducing the ATP concentration until ATP binding is rate-limiting or by lowering the temperature. For sufficiently long interactions near isometric conditions, low frequency force fluctuations were observed within the time frame of a single event. Single myosin events can be measured at ionic strengths that disrupt weak binding actomyosin interactions, supporting the postulate of distinct weak and strong binding states. Myosin-generated force and displacement were measured simultaneously against several different loads to generate a force-displacement curve. The linear appearance of this curve suggests that the myosin powerstroke is driven by the release of a strained linear elastic element with a stiffness of approximately 0.4 pN nm-1.

    View details for PubMedID 7787094



    In the past year, the structure of the regulatory domain of scallop myosin has joined that of the chicken skeletal muscle myosin subfragment 1 and provided insights into the regulation of myosin function. Mutagenesis studies in a variety of systems have used the information provided by these structures to create mutant myosins to test models of chemomechanical transduction and its regulation.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RA49400005

    View details for PubMedID 7648319



    Recent advances in three areas of myosin research--structural biology, in vitro motility assays, and mutagenesis--are leading to a new understanding of the molecular mechanism of chemomechanical transduction by this motor protein. Highlights include rational design of mutants using the crystal structure of subfragment 1, combined in vivo and in vitro mutant analyses using Dictyostelium, and the emergence of baculovirus as an in vitro system for expression of mutated mammalian myosins.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995QE87300013

    View details for PubMedID 7755994



    The family of myosin motors is comprised of numerous classes distributed among a diverse set of organisms and cell types. We have identified an unconventional myosin gene (MYO3) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and show that it is member of a subclass of unconventional myosin proteins originally found only in the amoeboid organisms Dictyostelium and Acanthamoeba. Identification of this protein in these genetically and morphologically divergent organisms suggests that it will be ubiquitous in eukaryotes and that it has a role in the basic functions of the eukaryotic cell. We have constructed a strain of yeast missing 99% of the MYO3 coding sequence. This mutation has no observable phenotypic effect, placing MYO3 into a growing class of yeast genes which are dispensable under laboratory conditions, perhaps due to genetic redundancy. Alignment of MYO3 with other unconventional myosins shows that it shares with a subset of them a previously unrecognized region of homology in the tail; this region falls within a domain identified as important for mediating nonspecific electrostatic interactions with membranes. The existence of this region suggests that it may be involved in mediating specific protein-protein interactions, possibly helping to localize this myosin to specific membranes or membrane regions. In addition, we show that "classic" myosin I proteins share a region of hyper-proline-richness 10 amino acids before the SH3 domain. Proline-rich regions have recently been implicated as SH3 binding sites, which suggests that this region might be involved with regulating or in other ways interacting with SH3 domains.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995QJ72100008

    View details for PubMedID 7728870

  • MOW MOLECULAR MOTORS WORK NATURE Spudich, J. A. 1994; 372 (6506): 515-518


    What is the molecular basis of cell movement and changes in cell shape? The integration of three approaches is revealing how the molecular motors that drive these processes move and produce force.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PW08200042

    View details for PubMedID 7990922



    Conventional myosin ('myosin II') is a major component of the cytoskeleton in a wide variety of eukaryotic cells, ranging from lower amoebae to mammalian fibroblasts and neutrophils. Gene targeting technologies available in the Dictyostelium discoideum system have provided the first genetic proof that this molecular motor protein is essential for normal cytokinesis, capping of cell surface receptors, normal chemotactic cell locomotion and morphogenetic shape changes during development. Although the roles of myosin in a variety of cell functions are becoming clear, the mechanisms that regulate myosin assembly into functional bipolar filaments within cells are poorly understood. Dictyostelium is currently the only system where mutant forms of myosin can be engineered in vitro, then expressed in their native context in cells that are devoid of the wild-type isoform. We have utilized this technology in combination with nested truncation and deletion analysis to map domains of the myosin tail necessary for in vivo and in vitro filament assembly, and for normal myosin heavy chain (MHC) phosphorylation. This analysis defines a region of 35 amino acids within the tail that is critical for filament formation both for purified myosin molecules and for myosin within the in vivo setting. Phosphorylation analysis of these mutants in intact cytoskeletons demonstrates that the carboxy-terminal tip of the myosin heavy chain is required for complete phosphorylation of the myosin tail.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PQ38000020

    View details for PubMedID 7876354



    Dictyostelium cells that lack a functional myosin II heavy chain are motile and are capable of aggregation, but fail to undergo further multicellular development. We have used a Dictyostelium mutant expressing a cold-sensitive myosin heavy chain to examine the requirement for myosin throughout the course of development. The loss of myosin function upon cooling is rapid and reversible. Temperature-shift experiments reveal that myosin is essential during two different stages of development. During aggregation, myosin function appears to be necessary for cells to sort correctly in a way that allows further development to occur. During the final stage of development, it is required for the formation of a complete stalk and the raising of the spore head. Development between those stages, however, proceeds normally in the absence of myosin function. Aggregates at non-permissive temperature undergo an aberrant form of development resulting in a ball of cells. Calcofluor staining and reporter gene fusions reveal that these structures contain defective spores and a miniature stalk.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PF17600027

    View details for PubMedID 7956839



    We have created a mutant Dictyostelium myosin II heavy chain gene in which a highly conserved lysine residue (Lys-130) is changed to leucine. Lys-130 is a residue that is known to be trimethylated in skeletal muscle myosin and had been thought to play an integral role in the interaction of myosin with ATP during the actomyosin chemomechanical cycle. We report here the first in vivo and in vitro characterization of an engineered missense mutation in the motor domain of myosin. Expression of the K130L myosin in a Dictyostelium strain that lacks the myosin II heavy chain gene is sufficient to restore the ability of that cell line to undergo cytokinesis and multicellular development, processes that require functional myosin. The K130L myosin purified from these cells displays maximal actin-activated ATPase activities and promotes maximal sliding velocities of actin filaments in an in vitro motility assay that are comparable with those of wild-type myosin. These results demonstrate that this lysine residue is not required for the enzymatic or motile activities of myosin. However, the mutant protein exhibits a 4-fold increase in Km for ATP over wild-type myosin, indicating that this residue participates in the interaction of myosin with its nucleotide substrate.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994NX32700016

    View details for PubMedID 8034630



    Myosins are a functionally divergent group of mechanochemical enzymes involved in various motile activities in cells. Despite a high degree of conservation in the amino-acid sequence of the 130K motor domain (head region) of the molecule, there are large differences in the enzymatic and motile activities (Tables 1 and 2) of myosins from diverse species and cell types. However, the degree of conservation is not uniform throughout the head sequence; therefore, one reasonable hypothesis is that the functional differences between myosins derive from the poorly conserved areas. The most prominent divergent region occurs at the 50K/20K junction, a region of the molecule sensitive to proteolytic digestion and a binding site for actin. We have now constructed chimaeras of this region of myosin by substituting the 9-amino-acid Dictyostelium junction region with those from myosins from other species and find that the actin-activated ATPase correlates well with the activity of the myosin from which the junction region was derived. Our results suggest that this region, likely to be part of the myosin head that interacts directly with actin, is important in determining the enzymatic activity of myosin.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994NE33500061

    View details for PubMedID 8139694

  • SINGLE MYOSIN MOLECULE MECHANICS - PICONEWTON FORCES AND NANOMETER STEPS NATURE Finer, J. T., Simmons, R. M., Spudich, J. A. 1994; 368 (6467): 113-119


    A new in vitro assay using a feedback enhanced laser trap system allows direct measurement of force and displacement that results from the interaction of a single myosin molecule with a single suspended actin filament. Discrete stepwise movements averaging 11 nm were seen under conditions of low load, and single force transients averaging 3-4 pN were measured under isometric conditions. The magnitudes of the single forces and displacements are consistent with predictions of the conventional swinging-crossbridge model of muscle contraction.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994NA03000055

    View details for PubMedID 8139653



    Myosin II, which converts the energy of adenosine triphosphate hydrolysis into the movement of actin filaments, is a hexamer of two heavy chains, two essential light chains, and two regulatory light chains (RLCs). Dictyostelium myosin II is known to be regulated in vitro by phosphorylation of the RLC. Cells in which the wild-type myosin II heavy chain was replaced with a recombinant form that lacks the binding site for RLC carried out cytokinesis and almost normal development, processes known to be dependent on functional myosin II. Characterization of the purified recombinant protein suggests that a complex of RLC and the RLC binding site of the heavy chain plays an inhibitory role for adenosine triphosphatase activity and a structural role for the movement of myosin along actin.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993MM51100034

    View details for PubMedID 8266074



    Three threonine residues in the tail region of Dictyostelium myosin II heavy chain have been implicated previously in control of myosin filament formation. Here we report the in vitro and in vivo consequences of converting these sites to alanine residues, which eliminates phosphorylation at these positions, or to aspartate residues, which mimics the negative charge state of the phosphorylated molecule. Alanine substitution allows in vitro assembly and in vivo contractile activity, although this myosin shows substantial over-assembly in vivo. Aspartate substitution eliminates filament assembly in vitro and renders the myosin unable to drive any tested contractile event in vivo. These results demonstrate that heavy chain phosphorylation plays a key modulatory role in controlling myosin function in vivo.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993MD88500017

    View details for PubMedID 7691416



    The myoA gene of Dictyostelium is a member of a gene family of unconventional myosins. The myosin Is share homologous head and basic domains, but the myoA gene product lacks the glycine-, proline-, alanine-rich and src homology 3 domains typical of several of the other myosin Is. A mutant strain of Dictyostelium lacking a functional myoA gene was produced by gene targeting, and the motility of this strain in buffer and a spatial gradient of the chemoattractant cyclic AMP was analyzed by computer-assisted methods. The myoA- cells have a normal elongate morphology in buffer but exhibit a decrease in the instantaneous velocity of cellular translocation, an increase in the frequency of lateral pseudopod formation, and an increase in turning. In a spatial gradient, in which the frequency of pseudopod formation is depressed, myoA- cells exhibit positive chemotaxis but still turn several times more frequently than control cells. These results demonstrate that the other members of the unconventional myosin family do not fully compensate for the loss of functional myoA gene product. Surprisingly, the phenotype of the myoA- strain closely resembles that of the myoB- strain, suggesting that both play a role in the frequency of pseudopod formation and turning during cellular translocation.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993KQ09200009

    View details for PubMedID 8382977



    To examine the evolutionary relationships between members of the myosin family, we have used two different phylogenetic methods, distance matrix and maximum parsimony, to analyze all available myosin head sequences. We find that there are at least three equally divergent classes of myosin, demonstrating that the current classification of myosin into only two classes needs to be reexamined. In the myosin II class, smooth muscle myosin is more closely related to nonmuscle myosin than to striated muscle myosin, implying that smooth muscle and skeletal muscle myosins were independently derived from nonmuscle myosin and suggesting that similarities between these types of muscle are the result of convergent evolution. The grouping of head sequences produced by phylogenetic analysis is consistent with classifications based on enzymology and structural localization and is generally consistent with grouping based on common tail structure elements. This result demonstrates that specific head sequences are tightly coupled to specific tail sequences throughout evolution and challenges the idea that myosin heads are freely interchangeable units whose unique function is determined only by the tail structure to which it is attached.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993KH51600062

    View details for PubMedID 8421702


    View details for Web of Science ID A1993BZ58U00001

    View details for PubMedID 8246790



    We used molecular genetic approaches to delete 521 amino acid residues from the proximal portion of the Dictyostelium myosin II tail. The deletion encompasses approximately 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 microns/s at 30 degrees 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.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992KF45200013

    View details for PubMedID 1493338



    A cDNA clone corresponding to the Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain kinase (MHCK) gene was isolated using antibodies specific to the purified enzyme. Sequence analysis of the cDNA revealed that the Dictyostelium MHCK possesses all of the domains characteristic of members of the protein kinase C family. The amino-terminal region of the MHCK contains the cysteine-rich motif with an internal duplication that is present in all known protein kinase C species. This domain precedes sequences that are highly homologous to protein kinase catalytic domains. The carboxyl-terminal region contains a cluster of 23 serine and threonine residues that may represent the autophosphorylation domain of the Dictyostelium MHCK. These results, along with previous studies that indicate that this enzyme has very restrictive substrate specificity, incorporates approximately 20 mol of phosphate per mol of kinase through an autophosphorylation reaction, and is expressed only during development, suggest that the Dictyostelium MHCK is a distinct member of the protein kinase C family and imply that this kinase family, which may include members with very specific cellular functions, may be even more heterogeneous than previously thought.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992JC86800037

    View details for PubMedID 1321427



    The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been used to study the function of components of the actin cytoskeleton in vivo, mainly because it is easy to derive and characterize mutations affecting these proteins. In contrast, biochemical studies have generally used proteins derived from higher eukaryotes. We have devised a simple procedure to prepare, in high yield, homogeneous native actin from wild-type and act1 mutant yeast. Using intensified video fluorescence microscopy, we found that actin filaments polymerized from these preparations exhibit ATP-dependent sliding movement over surfaces coated with rabbit skeletal muscle myosin. The rates of sliding movement of the wild-type and mutant yeast actins were each about half that of rabbit skeletal muscle actin under similar conditions. We conclude that over the large evolutionary distance between yeast and mammals there has been significant conservation of actin function, specifically the ability to be moved by interaction with myosin.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992HU97700051

    View details for PubMedID 1533933


    View details for Web of Science ID A1992JE31500025

    View details for PubMedID 1497323

  • Molecular genetic approaches to the cytoskeleton in Dictyostelium. Current opinion in genetics & development Patterson, B., Ruppel, K. M., Spudich, J. A. 1991; 1 (3): 378-382


    Recent advances in molecular genetic techniques are being applied in Dictyostelium to test and expand prevailing views on the functioning of the actin-based cytoskeleton. Current research involves the disruption, by homologous recombination, of genes encoding cytoskeletal elements. We suggest combining classical and molecular genetic approaches to supplement these investigations.

    View details for PubMedID 1840895



    A full-length cDNA corresponding to the Dictyostelium myosin light chain kinase gene has been isolated and characterized. Sequence analysis of the cDNA confirms conserved protein kinase subdomains and reveals that the Dictyostelium sequence is highly homologous to those of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases, including myosin light chain kinases from higher eukaryotes. Despite the high homologies to calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases, there is no recognizable calmodulin-binding domain within the Dictyostelium sequence. However, the Dictyostelium myosin light chain kinase possesses a putative auto-inhibitory domain near its carboxyl terminus. To further characterize this domain, the full-length enzyme as well as a truncated form lacking this domain were expressed in bacterial cells and purified. The full-length enzyme expressed in bacteria exhibits essentially the same biochemical characteristics as the enzyme isolated from Dictyostelium. The truncated form however exhibits a Vmax that is approximately ten times greater than that of the native enzyme. In addition, unlike the native kinase and the full-length kinase expressed in bacteria, the truncated enzyme does not undergo autophosphorylation. These results suggest that the Dictyostelium enzyme, like myosin light chain kinases from higher eukaryotes, is regulated by an autoinhibitory domain but that the specific molecular signals necessary for activation of the Dictyostelium enzyme are entirely distinct.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991GB97700078

    View details for PubMedID 1651931

  • QUANTIZED VELOCITIES AT LOW MYOSIN DENSITIES IN AN INVITRO MOTILITY ASSAY NATURE Uyeda, T. Q., Warrick, H. M., Kron, S. J., Spudich, J. A. 1991; 352 (6333): 307-311


    An in vitro motility assay has been developed in which single actin filaments move on one or a few heavy meromyosin (HMM) molecules. This movement is slower than when many HMM molecules are involved, in contrast to analogous experiments with microtubules and kinesin. Frequency analysis shows that sliding speeds distribute around integral multiples of a unitary velocity. This discreteness may be due to differences in the numbers of HMM molecules interacting with each actin filament, where the unitary velocity reflects the activity of one HMM molecule. The value of the unitary velocity predicts a step size of 5-20 nm per ATP, which is consistent with the conventional swinging crossbridge model for myosin function.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991FY28900060

    View details for PubMedID 1852205



    A central unresolved issue in modern cell biology concerns how eukaryotic cell migration is achieved. Although the underlying mechanics of cell locomotion appear similar in cells ranging from amoebae to leukocytes, the organisms that have been historically studied have not been amenable to the techniques of modern molecular genetics. The recent development of high-efficiency gene targeting technology for Dictyostelium discoideum, coupled with the classic cell migration behavior of this organism, offers an opportunity to resolve many of the controversial issues concerning cell locomotion.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991FJ47600007

    View details for PubMedID 2068788



    Myosin null mutants of Dictyostelium are defective for cytokinesis, multicellular development, and capping of surface proteins. We have used these cells as transformation recipients for an altered myosin heavy chain gene that encodes a protein bearing a carboxy-terminal 34-kD truncation. This truncation eliminates threonine phosphorylation sites previously shown to control filament assembly in vitro. Despite restoration of growth in suspension, development, and ability to cap cell surface proteins, these delta C34-truncated myosin transformants display severe cytoskeletal abnormalities, including excessive localization of the truncated myosin to the cortical cytoskeleton, impaired cell shaped dynamics, and a temporal defect in myosin dissociation from beneath capped surface proteins. These data demonstrate that the carboxy-terminal domain of myosin plays a critical role in regulating the disassembly of the protein from contractile structures in vivo.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991EX92000014

    View details for PubMedID 1899668



    The study of engineered Dictyostelium mutants with altered or missing myosin has revealed the molecule to be essential both for cytokinesis and for completion of the complex Dictyostelium developmental cycle. To explore the biological role of the carboxyl-terminal portion of the myosin tail, we have created a Dictyostelium cell line bearing a mutation designated my delta C34 in the myosin (mhcA) locus. This cell line produces a truncated myosin protein lacking the 34-kDa carboxyl terminus of the wild-type tail. Southern blots of the mutant cells show that the myosin gene was disrupted by homologous recombination of the transforming plasmid into the myosin locus. Based on in vitro studies of myosin functional domains, the 200-kDa truncated myosin was designed to include a domain important for assembly but to eliminate a domain important for threonine phosphorylation. The mutant cells are defective in cytokinesis, similar to those mutants that are either devoid of myosin (null cells) or contain a truncated 140-kDa myosin (hmm cells). However, unlike previous mutants, the cells carrying the my delta C34 mutation are able to complete the Dictyostelium developmental cycle to form fruiting bodies. Thus a truncated 200-kDa myosin can substitute for native myosin to function in developing cells. These results demonstrate that the 34-kDa carboxyl terminus of myosin, which contributes regulated phosphorylation sites and 20% of the total length of the rod, is not required for the developmental cycle of Dictyostelium.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990ED61200066

    View details for PubMedID 2236024



    Chemomechanical coupling in muscle contraction may be due to "swinging crossbridges," such that a change in the angle at which the myosin head binds to the actin filament is tightly coupled to release of products of ATP hydrolysis. This model would limit the step size, the unit displacement of actin produced by a single ATP hydrolysis, to less than twice the chord length of the myosin head. Recent measurements have found the step size to be significantly larger than this geometric limit, bringing into question any direct correspondence between the crossbridge and ATP-hydrolysis cycles. We have measured the rate of ATP hydrolysis due to actin sliding movement in an in vitro motility assay consisting of purified actin and purified myosin. We have calculated an apparent myosin step size well within the geometric limit set by the size of the myosin head. These data are consistent with tight coupling between myosin crossbridge movement and ATP hydrolysis.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990DZ45300043

    View details for PubMedID 2144900



    A Dictyostelium myosin light chain kinase has been purified approximately 15,000-fold to near homogeneity. The purified kinase is a single polypeptide of approximately 34 kDa that phosphorylates only the 18-kDa Dictyostelium myosin regulatory light chain and itself among substrates tested. The enzyme was purified largely by ammonium sulfate fractionation and hydrophobic (butyl) interaction chromatography. Analysis using polyclonal antibodies raised against the purified 34-kDa protein confirms that this protein is responsible for myosin light chain kinase activity. Protein microsequence of the 34-kDa protein reveals conserved protein kinase sequences. The purified Dictyostelium myosin light chain kinase exhibits a Km for Dictyostelium myosin of 4 microM and a Vmax of 8 nmol/min/mg. Unlike other characterized myosin light chain kinases, this enzyme is not regulated by calcium/calmodulin. Western blot analysis demonstrates that the purified kinase is not a proteolytic fragment that has lost calcium/calmodulin regulation. The Dictyostelium myosin light chain kinase activity is not directly regulated by cyclic nucleotides. However, this kinase undergoes an intramolecular autophosphorylation that activates the enzyme.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990DU27500064

    View details for PubMedID 2380188



    We have estimated the step size of the myosin cross-bridge (d, displacement of an actin filament per one ATP hydrolysis) in an in vitro motility assay system by measuring the velocity of slowly moving actin filaments over low densities of heavy meromyosin on a nitrocellulose surface. In previous studies, only filaments greater than a minimum length were observed to undergo continuous sliding movement. These filaments moved at the maximum speed (Vo), while shorter filaments dissociated from the surface. We have now modified the assay system by including 0.8% methylcellulose in the ATP solution. Under these conditions, filaments shorter than the previous minimum length move, but significantly slower than Vo, as they are propelled by a limited number of myosin heads. These data are consistent with a model that predicts that the sliding velocity (v) of slowly moving filaments is determined by the product of vo and the fraction of time when at least one myosin head is propelling the filament, that is, v = vo [1-(1-ts/tc)N], where ts is the time the head is strongly bound to actin, tc is the cycle time of ATP hydrolysis, and N is the average number of myosin heads that can interact with the filament. Using this equation, the optimum value of ts/tc to fit the measured relationship between v and N was calculated to be 0.050. Assuming d = vots, the step size was then calculated to be between 10nm and 28 nm per ATP hydrolyzed, the latter value representing the upper limit. This range is within that of geometric constraint for conformational change imposed by the size of the myosin head, and therefore is not inconsistent with the swinging cross-bridge model tightly coupled with ATP hydrolysis.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990DU27400013

    View details for PubMedID 2143785



    Dictyostelium discoideum, an organism that undergoes development and that is amenable to biochemical and molecular genetic approaches, is an attractive model organism with which to study the role of tyrosine phosphorylation in cell-cell communication. We report the presence of protein-tyrosine kinase genes in D. discoideum. Screening of a Dictyostelium cDNA expression library with an anti-phosphotyrosine antibody identifies fusion proteins that exhibit protein-tyrosine kinase activity. Two distinct cDNAs were identified and isolated. Though highly homologous to protein kinases in general, these kinases do not exhibit many of the hallmarks of protein-tyrosine kinases of higher eucaryotes. In addition, these genes are developmentally regulated, which suggests a role for tyrosine phosphorylation in controlling Dictyostelium development.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990DP60000030

    View details for PubMedID 1972546


    View details for Web of Science ID A1990DF83200014

    View details for PubMedID 2141452



    The eukaryotic slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum contains a single conventional myosin heavy chain gene (mhcA). Cell lines in which this gene was deleted via homologous recombination have been previously reported. These myosin null cells were shown to be defective for cytokinesis and for sporogenesis. We demonstrate here that the cloned mhcA gene can be reintroduced into these cells by the use of a direct functional selection. This selection was imposed by demanding that cells be capable of growth in suspension. The resulting transformants appear normal for cytokinesis, and also are fully competent for sporogenesis, confirming that reintroduction of the myosin gene is sufficient to restore these properties. These results demonstrate a method for rescuing mutants in Dictyostelium which may be generally applicable for genetically created mutations as well as for mutations which have been engineered.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990CM89300012

    View details for PubMedID 2406175

  • Molecular genetics: a key to the cytoskeleton's closet. Current opinion in cell biology Titus, M. A., Warrick, H. M., Spudich, J. A. 1990; 2 (1): 116-120

    View details for PubMedID 2183835



    The assembly of myosins into filaments is a property common to all conventional myosins. The ability of myosins to form filaments is conferred by the tail of the large asymmetric molecule. We are studying cloned portions of the Dictyostelium myosin gene expressed in Escherichia coli to investigate functional properties of defined segments of the myosin tail. We have focused on five segments derived from the 68-kD carboxyl-terminus of the myosin tail. These have been expressed and purified to homogeneity from E. coli, and thus the boundaries of each segment within the myosin gene and protein sequence are known. We identified an internal 34-kD segment of the tail, N-LMM-34, which is required and sufficient for assembly. This 287-amino acid domain represents the smallest tail segment purified from any myosin that is capable of forming highly ordered paracrystals characteristic of myosin. Because the assembly of Dictyostelium myosin can be regulated by phosphorylation of the heavy chain, we have studied the in vitro phosphorylation of the expressed tail segments. We have determined which segments are phosphorylated to a high level by a Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain kinase purified from developed cells. While LMM-68, the 68-kD carboxyl terminus of Dictyostelium myosin, or LMM-58, which lacks the 10-kD carboxyl terminus of LMM-68, are phosphorylated to the same extent as purified myosin, subdomains of these segments do not serve as efficient substrates for the kinase. Thus LMM-58 is one minimal substrate for efficient phosphorylation by the myosin heavy chain kinase purified from developed cells. Taken together these results identify two functional domains in Dictyostelium myosin: a 34-kD assembly domain bounded by amino acids 1533-1819 within the myosin sequence and a larger 58-kD phosphorylation domain bounded by amino acids 1533-2034 within the myosin sequence.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990CJ68900007

    View details for PubMedID 2404023



    The isolated head fragment of myosin is a motor protein that is able to use energy liberated from the hydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate to cause sliding movement of actin filaments. Expression of a myosin fragment nearly equivalent to the amino-terminal globular head domain, generally referred to as subfragment 1, has been achieved by transforming the eukaryotic organism Dictyostelium discoideum with a plasmid that carries a 2.6-kilobase fragment of the cloned Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain gene under the control of the Dictyostelium actin-15 promoter. The recombinant fragment of the myosin heavy chain was purified 2400-fold from one of the resulting cell lines and was found to be functional by the following criteria: the myosin head fragment copurified with the essential and regulatory myosin light chains, decorated actin filaments, and displayed actin-activated adenosine triphosphatase activity. In addition, motility assays in vitro showed that the recombinant myosin fragment is capable of supporting sliding movement of actin filaments.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989AX71200039

    View details for PubMedID 2530629


    View details for Web of Science ID A1989DM09500001

    View details for PubMedID 2519609

  • MULTIPLE ACTIN-BASED MOTOR GENES IN DICTYOSTELIUM CELL REGULATION Titus, M. A., Warrick, H. M., Spudich, J. A. 1989; 1 (1): 55-63


    Dictyostelium cells, devoid of conventional myosin, display a variety of motile activities, consistent with the presence of other molecular motors. The Dictyostelium genome was probed at low stringency with a gene fragment containing the conserved conventional myosin head domain sequences to identify other actin-based motors that may play a role in the observed motility of these mutant cells. One gene (abmA) has been characterized and encodes a polypeptide of approximately 135 kDa with a head region homologous to other myosin head sequences and a tail region that is not predicted to form either an alpha-helical structure of coiled-coil interactions. Comparisons of the amino acid sequences of the tail regions of abmA, Dictyostelium myosin I, and Acanthamoeba myosins IB and IL reveal an area of sequence similarity in the amino terminal half of the tail that may be a membrane-binding domain. The abmA gene, however, does not contain an unusual Gly, Pro, Ala stretch typical of many of the previously described myosin Is. Two additional genes (abmB and abmC) were identified using this approach and also found to contain sequences that encode proteins with typical conserved myosin head sequences. The abm genes may be part of a large family of actin-based motors that play various roles in diverse aspects of cellular motility.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989DM09500006

    View details for PubMedID 2519618



    We have investigated the role of cytoskeletal contraction in the capping of surface proteins crosslinked by concanavalin A on mutant Dictyostelium cells lacking conventional myosin. Measurements of cellular deformability to indicate the development of cortical tension show that cells of the wild-type parental strain, AX4, stiffen early during capping and relax back towards the softer resting state as the process is completed. Mutant cells lacking myosin (mhcA-) have a lower resting-state stiffness, and fail to stiffen and to cap crosslinked proteins on binding concanavalin A. Hence conventional myosin is essential both for capping and for the concomitant increase in cell stiffness. Furthermore, depletion of cellular ATP by azide causes a 'rigor' contraction in AX4 cells which makes them stiffen and become spherical. By contrast, the mhcA- cells fail to respond in these ways. These measurements of cortical tension in non-muscle cells can thus be directly correlated with the presence of conventional myosin, demonstrating that contractile tension generated by myosin can drive both a change of cell shape and the capping of crosslinked surface receptors.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989AU72100061

    View details for PubMedID 2797182

  • BIDIRECTIONAL MOVEMENT OF ACTIN-FILAMENTS ALONG TRACKS OF MYOSIN HEADS NATURE Toyoshima, Y. Y., Toyoshima, C., Spudich, J. A. 1989; 341 (6238): 154-156


    It is well established that muscle contraction results from the relative sliding of actin and myosin filaments. Both filaments have definite polarities and well-ordered structures. Thick filaments, however, are not vital for supporting movement in vitro. Previously we have demonstrated that actin filaments can move continuously on myosin fragments (subfragment-1 or heavy meromyosin (HMM] that are bound to a nitrocellulose surface. Here we report that actin filaments can move in opposite directions on tracks of myosin heads formed when actin filaments decorated with HMM are placed on a nitrocellulose surface. The actin filaments always move forward, frequently changing the direction of the movement, but never move backward reversing the polarity of the movement. The direction of movement is therefore determined by the polarity of the actin filament. These results indicate that myosin heads have considerable flexibility.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989AP72600065

    View details for PubMedID 2674720



    We purified to homogeneity the Dictyostelium discoideum myosin heavy chain kinase that is implicated in the heavy chain phosphorylation increases that occur during chemotaxis. The kinase is initially found in the insoluble fraction of developed cells. The major purification step was achieved by affinity chromatography using a tail fragment of Dictyostelium myosin (LMM58) expressed in Escherichia coli (De Lozanne, A., Berlot, C. H., Leinwand, L. A., and Spudich, J. A. (1988) J. Cell Biol. 105, 2990-3005). The kinase has an apparent molecular weight of 84,000 as determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The apparent native molecular weight by gel filtration is 240,000. The kinase catalyzes phosphorylation of myosin heavy chain or LMM58 with similar kinetics, and the extent of phosphorylation for both is 4 mol of phosphate/mol. With both substrates the Vmax is about 18 mumol/min/mg and the Km is 15 microM. The myosin heavy chain kinase is specific to Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain, and the phosphorylated amino acid is threonine. The kinase undergoes autophosphorylation. Each mole of kinase subunit incorporates about 20 mol of phosphates. Phosphorylation of myosin by this kinase inhibits myosin thick filament formation, suggesting that the kinase plays a role in the regulation of myosin assembly.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989AN59700092

    View details for PubMedID 2549052



    Dictyostelium myosin has been examined under conditions that reveal intramolecular and intermolecular interactions that may be important in the process of assembly and its regulation. Rotary shadowed myosin molecules exhibit primarily two configurations under these conditions: straight parallel dimers and folded monomers. All of the monomers bend in a specific region of the 1860-A-long tail that is 1200 A from the head-tail junction. Molecules in parallel dimers are staggered by 140 A, which is a periodicity in the packing of myosin molecules originally observed in native thick filaments of muscle. The most common region for interaction in the dimers is a segment of the tail about 200-A-long, extending from 900 to 1100 A from the head-tail junction. Parallel dimers form tetramers by way of antiparallel interactions in their tail regions with overlaps in multiples of 140 A. The folded configuration of the myosin molecules is promoted by phosphorylation of the heavy chain by Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain kinase. It appears that the bent monomers are excluded from filaments formed upon addition of salt while the dimeric molecules assemble. These results may provide the structural basis for primary steps in myosin filament assembly and its regulation by heavy chain phosphorylation.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989AF18400018

    View details for PubMedID 2745547



    We have constructed an expression cartridge which has the bacterial hygromycin resistance gene (hph) fused to the Dictyostelium discoideum actin 15 promoter, with a segment of 3'-flanking DNA from the actin 15 locus placed downstream of the hph gene to serve as a transcription terminator. The plasmid pDE109, which contained this cartridge and a Dictyostelium origin of replication, transformed D. discoideum with high efficiency under hygromycin selection. The availability of this selectable marker circumvents the previous limitation of having G418 resistance as the only selectable marker for this organism; secondary transformation can now be used to introduce DNA into previously transformed cell lines.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989U275100018

    View details for PubMedID 2546056

  • GENE REPLACEMENT IN DICTYOSTELIUM - GENERATION OF MYOSIN NULL MUTANTS EMBO JOURNAL Manstein, D. J., Titus, M. A., DeLozanne, A., Spudich, J. A. 1989; 8 (3): 923-932


    The eukaryotic slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum has a single conventional myosin heavy chain gene (mhcA). The elimination of the mhcA gene was achieved by homologous recombination. Two gene replacement plasmids were constructed, each carrying the G418 resistance gene as a selective marker and flanked by either 0.7 kb of 5' coding sequence and 0.9 kb of 3' coding sequence or 1.5 kb of 5' flanking sequence and 1.1 kb of 3' flanking sequence. Myosin null mutants (mhcA- cells) were obtained after transformation with either of these plasmids. The mhcA- cells are genetically stable and are capable of a variety of motile processes. Our results provide genetic proof that in Dictyostelium the conventional myosin gene is required for growth in suspension, normal cell division and sporogenesis, and illustrate how gene targeting can be used as a tool in Dictyostelium.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989T691000033

    View details for PubMedID 2721503



    Dictyostelium discoideum is of increasing interest as a model eukaryotic cell because its many attributes have recently been expanded to include improved genetic and biochemical manipulability. The ability to transform Dictyostelium using drug resistance as a selectable marker (1) and to gene target by high frequency homologous integration (2) makes this organism particularly useful for molecular genetic approaches to cell structure and function. Given this background, it becomes important to analyze the codon preference used in this organism. Dictyostelium displays a strong and unique overall codon preference. This preference varies between different coding regions and even varies between coding regions from the same gene family. The degree of codon preference may be correlated with expression levels but not with the developmental time of expression of the gene product. The strong codon preference can be applied to identify coding regions in Dictyostelium DNA and aid in the design of oligonucleotide probes for cloning Dictyostelium genes.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1988P435100026



    The amino acid sequence of the myosin tail determines the specific manner in which myosin molecules are packed into the myosin filament, but the details of the molecular interactions are not known. Expression of genetically engineered myosin tail fragments would enable a study of the sequences important for myosin filament formation and its regulation. We report here the expression in Escherichia coli of a 1.5-kb fragment of the Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain gene coding for a 58-kD fragment of the myosin tail. The expressed protein (DdLMM-58) was purified to homogeneity from the soluble fraction of E. coli extracts. The expressed protein was found to be functional by the following criteria: (a) it appears in the electron microscope as a 74-nm-long rod, the predicted length for an alpha-helical coiled coil of 500 amino acids; (b) it assembles into filamentous structures that show the typical axial periodicity of 14 nm found in muscle myosin native filaments; (c) its assembly into filaments shows the same ionic strength dependence as Dictyostelium myosin; (d) it serves as a substrate for the Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain kinase which phosphorylates myosin in response to chemotactic signaling; (e) in its phosphorylated form it has the same phosphoamino acids and similar phosphopeptide maps to those of phosphorylated Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain; (f) it competes with myosin for the heavy chain kinase. Thus, all the information required for filament formation and phosphorylation is contained within this expressed protein.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1987L620600013

    View details for PubMedID 3320060


    View details for Web of Science ID A1987K913700013

    View details for PubMedID 3318880

Conference Proceedings

  • Detection of single-molecule interactions using correlated thermal diffusion Mehta, A. D., Finer, J. T., Spudich, J. A. NATL ACAD SCIENCES. 1997: 7927-7931


    Observation of discrete, single-molecule binding events allows one to bypass assumptions required to infer single-molecule properties from studies of ensembles of molecules. Optically trapped beads and glass microneedles have been applied to detect single-molecule binding events, but it remains difficult to identify signs of binding events given the large displacements induced by thermal forces. Here, we exploit thermal diffusion by using correlation between motion of optically trapped beads attached to both ends of a single actin filament to track binding events of individual myosin molecules. We use correlated diffusion to measure the stiffness of a single myosin molecule and estimate its thermal fluctuation in a poststroke state as comparable in amplitude to the measured stroke distance. The use of correlated diffusion to measure kinetics of single-molecule interactions and the stiffness of the interacting moieties should be applicable to any pair of interacting molecules, and not limited to biological motors.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XM42800040

    View details for PubMedID 9223289

  • Myosin structure and function Spudich, J. A., Finer, J., Simmons, B., Ruppel, K., Patterson, B., Uyeda, T. COLD SPRING HARBOR LAB PRESS, PUBLICATIONS DEPT. 1995: 783-791

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995VA12500083

    View details for PubMedID 8824453



    Over the last five years, the value of in vitro motility assays as probes of the mechanical properties of the actin-myosin interaction has been amply demonstrated. Motility assays in which single fluorescent actin filaments are observed moving over surfaces coated with myosin or its soluble fragments are now used in many laboratories. They have been applied to a wide range of problems including the study of structure-function relationships in the myosin molecule and measurement of fundamental properties of the myosin head. However, one limitation of these assays has been uncertainty over the number of myosin heads interacting with each sliding filament, that frustrates attempts to determine properties of individual heads. In order to address this limitation, we have modified the conditions of the actin sliding filament assay to reduce the number of heads interacting with each filament. Our goal is to establish an assay in which the motor function of a single myosin head can be characterized from the movement of a single actin filament.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991FK90200027

    View details for PubMedID 1885651

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