Motile extracts have been prepared from Dictyostelium discoideum by homogenization and differential centrifugation at 4 degrees C in a stabilization solution (60). These extracts gelled on warming to 25 degrees Celsius and contracted in response to micromolar Ca++ or a pH in excess of 7.0. Optimal gelation occurred in a solution containing 2.5 mM ethylene glycol-bis (β-aminoethyl ether)N,N,N',N'-tetraacetate (EGTA), 2.5 mM piperazine-N-N'-bis [2-ethane sulfonic acid] (PIPES), 1 mM MgC1(2), 1 mM ATP, and 20 mM KCI at ph 7.0 (relaxation solution), while micromolar levels of Ca++ inhibited gelation. Conditions that solated the gel elicited contraction of extracts containing myosin. This was true regardless of whether chemical (micromolar Ca++, pH >7.0, cytochalasin B, elevated concentrations of KCI, MgC1(2), and sucrose) or physical (pressure, mechanical stress, and cold) means were used to induce solation. Myosin was definitely required for contraction. During Ca++-or pH-elicited contraction: (a) actin, myosin, and a 95,000-dalton polypeptide were concentrated in the contracted extract; (b) the gelation activity was recovered in the material sqeezed out the contracting extract;(c) electron microscopy demonstrated that the number of free, recognizable F-actin filaments increased; (d) the actomyosin MgATPase activity was stimulated by 4- to 10-fold. In the absense of myosin the Dictyostelium extract did not contract, while gelation proceeded normally. During solation of the gel in the absense of myosin: (a) electron microscopy demonstrated that the number of free, recognizable F- actin filaments increased; (b) solation-dependent contraction of the extract and the Ca++-stimulated MgATPase activity were reconstituted by adding puried Dictyostelium myosin. Actin purified from the Dictyostelium extract did not gel (at 2 mg/ml), while low concentrations of actin (0.7-2 mg/ml) that contained several contaminating components underwent rapid Ca++ regulated gelation.
These results indicated : (a) gelation in Dictyostelium extracts involves a specific Ca++-sensitive interaction between actin and several other components; (b) myosin is an absolute requirement for contraction of the extract; (c) actin-myosin interactions capable of producing force for movement are prevented in the gel, while solation of the gel by either physical or chemical means results in the release of F-actin capable of interaction with myosin and subsequent contraction. The effectiveness of physical agents in producting contraction suggests that the regulation of contraction by the gel is structural in nature.