In apicomplexan parasites, actin-disrupting drugs and the inhibitor of myosin heavy chain ATPase, 2,3-butanedione monoxime, have been shown to interfere with host cell invasion by inhibiting parasite gliding motility. We report here that the actomyosin system of Toxoplasma gondii also contributes to the process of cell division by ensuring accurate budding of daughter cells. T. gondii myosins B and C are encoded by alternatively spliced mRNAs and differ only in their COOH-terminal tails. MyoB and MyoC showed distinct subcellular localizations and dissimilar solubilities, which were conferred by their tails. MyoC is the first marker selectively concentrated at the anterior and posterior polar rings of the inner membrane complex, structures that play a key role in cell shape integrity during daughter cell biogenesis. When transiently expressed, MyoB, MyoC, as well as the common motor domain lacking the tail did not distribute evenly between daughter cells, suggesting some impairment in proper segregation. Stable overexpression of MyoB caused a significant defect in parasite cell division, leading to the formation of extensive residual bodies, a substantial delay in replication, and loss of acute virulence in mice. Altogether, these observations suggest that MyoB/C products play a role in proper daughter cell budding and separation.

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