myosin light chains
polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis
actomyosin ATPase regulation
Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Myosin from the slime mold Physarum polycephalum contains three sizes of polypeptides: a heavy chain and two light chains, LC-1 and LC-2. Using a simple qualitative test for calcium binding by comparing electrophoretic migration of the polypeptides in sodium dodecy1 sulfate (SDS) acrylamide gels in the presence and absence of calcium, we have found that Physarum myosin light chain LC-2 migrates with an apparent molecular weight of 16,900 daltons in the presence of the metal ion chelator ethylene glycol bis (B-aminoethyl ether) N,N′-tetraacetic acid (EGTA). However, if calcium chloride is added to the sample prior to electrophoresis, the apparent molecular weight decreases to 16,100. Lanthanide and cadmium ions, but not magnesium, can substitute for calcium. Because the ionic radii of Ca2+, La3+, and Cd2+ are almost identical, we conclude that Physarum myosin LC-2 possesses a very size-specific binding site for calcium. Physarum myosin LC-1 and the heavy chain give no evidence for binding calcium by this test. Since cytoplasmic streaming in the plasmodium of Physarum requires calcium, our evidence indicates that the calcium-binding property of Physarum myosin LC-2 may be important in regulating the production of force by actomyosin in the ectoplasm. Unexpectedly, the myosin light chain in Physarum capable of binding calcium, LC-2, is the essential light chain, while LC-1 is a member of the regulatory class of myosin light chains [V. T. Nachmias, personal communication]. Until now, essential myosin light chains have not been shown to have high affinity divalent cation binding sites. This means a new version of the myosin-based model for actomyosin regulation by calcium may be required to explain cytoplasmic movement in Physarum, and perhaps in other motile systems involving cytoplasmic myosins as well.
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