The protozoan myosin Is are widely expressed actin-based motors, yet their in vivo roles remain poorly understood. Molecular genetic studies have been carried out to determine their in vivo function in the simple eukaryote Dictyostelium, an organism that contains a family of four myosin Is. Here we report the characterization of myoC, a gene that encodes a fifth member of this family. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence reveals that the myoC gene encodes a myosin that is homologous to the well-described Acanthamoeba myosin Is as well as to Dictyostelium myoB and -D. The expression pattern of the myoC mRNA is similar to that of myoB and myoD, with a peak of expression at times of maximal cell migration, around 6 hours development. Deletion of the myoB gene has been previously shown to result in mutant cells that are defective in pseudopod extension and phagocytosis. However, no obvious differences in cell growth, development, phagocytosis or motility were detected in cells in which the myoC gene had been disrupted by homologous recombination. F-actin localization and ultrastructural organization also appeared unperturbed in myoC- cells. This apparent ‘lack’ of phenotype in a myosin I single knockout cannot be simply explained by redundancy of function. Our results rather suggest that the present means of assessing myosin I function in vivo are insufficient to identify the unique roles of these actin-based motors.

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