Overexpression of (β)-actin is known to alter cell morphology, though its effect on cell motility has not been documented previously. Here we show that overexpressing (β)-actin in myoblasts has striking effects on motility, increasing cell speed to almost double that of control cells. This occurs by increasing the areas of protrusion and retraction and is accompanied by raised levels of (β)-actin in the newly protruded regions. These regions of the cell margin, however, show decreased levels of polymerised actin, indicating that protrusion can outpace the rate of actin polymerisation in these cells. Moreover, the expression of (β)*-actin (a G244D mutant, which shows defective polymerisation in vitro) is equally effective at increasing speed and protrusion. Concomitant changes in actin binding proteins show no evidence of a consistent mechanism for increasing the rate of actin polymerisation in these actin overexpressing cells. The increase in motility is confined to poorly spread cells in both cases and the excess motility can be abolished by blocking myosin function with butanedione monoxime (BDM). Our observations on normal myoblasts are consistent with the view that they protrude by the assembly and cross linking of actin filaments. In contrast, the additional motility shown by cells overexpressing (β)-actin appears not to result from an increase in the rate of actin polymerisation but to depend on myosin function. This suggests that the additional protrusion arises from a different mechanism. We discuss the possibility that it is related to retraction-induced protrusion in fibroblasts. In this phenomenon, a wave of increased protrusion follows a sudden collapse in cell spreading. This view could explain why it is only the additional motility that depends on spreading, and has implications for understanding the differences in locomotion that distinguish tissue cells from highly invasive cell types such as leucocytes and malignant cells.
Summary Axonemal dynein from Tetrahymena cilia can be separated on a sucrose gradient into two fractions, at least one of which appears to be polymorphic. We have been using immuno-electron microscopy in order to try and locate the different types of dynein molecules within the axonemal structure.