The brush border of intestinal epithelial cells consists of a tightly packed array of microvilli, each of which contains a core of actin filaments. It has been postulated that microvillar movements are mediated by myosin interactions in the terminal web with the basal ends of these actin cores (Mooseker, M.S. 1976. J. Cell. Biol. 71:417-433). We report here that two predictions of this model are correct: (a) The brush border contains myosin, and (b) myosin is located in the terminal web. Myosin is isolated in 70 percent purity by solubilization of Triton-treated brush borders in 0.6 M KI, and separation of the components by gel filtration. Most of the remaining contaminants can be removed by precipitation of the myosin at low ionic strength. This yield is approximately 1 mg of myosin/30 mg of solubilized brush border protein. The molecule consists of three subunits with molecular weights of 200,000, 19,000, and 17,000 daltons in a 1:1:1 M ratio. At low ionic strength, the myosin forms small, bipolar filaments with dimensions of 300 X 11nm, that are similar to filaments seen previously in the terminal web of isolated brush borders. Like that of other vertebrate, nonmuscle myosins, the ATPase activity of isolated brush border myosin in 0.6 M KCI is highest with EDTA (1 μmol P(i)/mg-min; 37 degrees C), intermediate with Ca++ (0.4 μmol P(i)/mg-min), and low with Mg++ (0.01 μmol P(i)/mg-min). Actin does not stimulate the Mg-ATPase activity of the isolated enzyme. Antibodies against the rod fragment of human platelet myosin cross-react by immunodiffusion with brush border myosin. Staining of isolated mouse or chicken brush borders with rhodamine-antimyosin demonstrates that myosin is localized exclusively in the terminal web.

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