Myosin I is present in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts and its localization reflects a possible involvement in the extension and/or retraction of protrusions at the leading edge of locomoting cells and the transport of vesicles, but not in the contraction of stress fibers or transverse fibers. An affinity-purified polyclonal antibody to brush border myosin I colocalizes with a polypeptide of 120 kD in fibroblast extracts. Within initial protrusions of polarized, migrating fibroblasts, myosin I exhibits a punctate distribution, whereas actin is diffuse and myosin II is absent. Myosin I also exists in linear arrays parallel to the direction of migration in filopodia and microspikes, established protrusions, and within the leading lamellae of migrating cells. Myosin II and actin colocalize along transverse fibers in the lamellae of migrating cells, while myosin I displays no definitive organization along these fibers. During contractions of actin-based fibers, myosin II is concentrated in the center of the cell, while the distribution of myosin I does not change. Thus, myosin I is found at the correct location and time to be involved in the extension and/or retraction of protrusions and the transport of vesicles. Myosin II-based contractions in more posterior cellular regions could generate forces to separate cells, maintain a polarized cell shape, maintain the direction of locomotion, maximize the rate of locomotion, and/or aid in the delivery of cytoskeletal/contractile subunits to the leading edge.

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