Association of a nonmuscle myosin II with axoplasmic organelles. Academic Article uri icon


  • Association of motor proteins with organelles is required for the motors to mediate transport. Because axoplasmic organelles move on actin filaments, they must have associated actin-based motors, most likely members of the myosin superfamily. To gain a better understanding of the roles of myosins in the axon we used the giant axon of the squid, a powerful model for studies of axonal physiology. First, a approximately 220 kDa protein was purified from squid optic lobe, using a biochemical protocol designed to isolate myosins. Peptide sequence analysis, followed by cloning and sequencing of the full-length cDNA, identified this approximately 220 kDa protein as a nonmuscle myosin II. This myosin is also present in axoplasm, as determined by two independent criteria. First, RT-PCR using sequence-specific primers detected the transcript in the stellate ganglion, which contains the cell bodies that give rise to the giant axon. Second, Western blot analysis using nonmuscle myosin II isotype-specific antibodies detected a single approximately 220 kDa band in axoplasm. Axoplasm was fractionated through a four-step sucrose gradient after 0.6 M KI treatment, which separates organelles from cytoskeletal components. Of the total nonmuscle myosin II in axoplasm, 43.2% copurified with organelles in the 15% sucrose fraction, while the remainder (56.8%) was soluble and found in the supernatant. This myosin decorates the cytoplasmic surface of 21% of the axoplasmic organelles, as demonstrated by immunogold electron-microscopy. Thus, nonmuscle myosin II is synthesized in the cell bodies of the giant axon, is present in the axon, and is associated with isolated axoplasmic organelles. Therefore, in addition to myosin V, this myosin is likely to be an axoplasmic organelle motor.

publication date

  • March 2002