The actin bundle within each microvillus of the intestinal brush border is laterally tethered to the membrane by bridges composed of the protein complex, 110-kD-calmodulin. Previous studies have shown that avian 110-kD-calmodulin shares many properties with myosins including mechanochemical activity. In the present study, a cDNA molecule encoding 1,000 amino acids of the 110-kD protein has been sequenced, providing direct evidence that this protein is a vertebrate homologue of the tail-less, single-headed myosin I first described in amoeboid cells. The primary structure of the 110-kD protein (or brush border myosin I heavy chain) consists of two domains, an amino-terminal "head" domain and a 35-kD carboxy-terminal "tail" domain. The head domain is homologous to the S1 domain of other known myosins, with highest homology observed between that of Acanthamoeba myosin IB and the S1 domain of the protein encoded by bovine myosin I heavy chain gene (MIHC; Hoshimaru, M., and S. Nakanishi. 1987. J. Biol. Chem. 262:14625-14632). The carboxy-terminal domain shows no significant homology with any other known myosins except that of the bovine MIHC. This demonstrates that the bovine MIHC gene most probably encodes the heavy chain of bovine brush border myosin I (BBMI). A bacterially expressed fusion protein encoded by the brush border 110-kD cDNA binds calmodulin. Proteolytic removal of the carboxy-terminal domain of the fusion protein results in loss of calmodulin binding activity, a result consistent with previous studies on the domain structure of the 110-kD protein. No hydrophobic sequence is present in the molecule indicating that chicken BBMI heavy chain is probably not an integral membrane protein. Northern blot analysis of various chicken tissue indicates that BBMI heavy chain is preferentially expressed in the intestine.

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