Inactivation of the Drosophila lethal(2)giant larvae (l(2)gl) gene causes malignant tumors in the brain and the imaginal discs and produces developmental abnormalities in other tissues, including the germline, the ring gland and the salivary glands. Our investigations into the l(2)gl function have revealed that the gene product, or p127 protein, acts as a cytoskeletal protein distributed in both the cytoplasm and on the inner face of lateral cell membranes in a number of tissues throughout development. To determine whether p127 can form oligomers or can stably interact with other proteins we have analyzed the structure of the cytosolic form of p127. Using gel filtration and immunoaffinity chromatography we found that p127 is consistently recovered as high molecular weight complexes that contain predominantly p127 and at least ten additional proteins. Blot overlay assays indicated that p127 can form homo-oligomers and the use of a series of chimaeric proteins made of segments of p127 fused to protein A, which alone behaves as a monomer, showed that p127 contains at least three distinct domains contributing to its homo-oligomerization. Among the proteins separated from the immuno-purified p127 complexes or isolated by virtue of their affinity to p127, we identified one of the proteins by microsequencing as nonmuscle myosin II heavy chain. Further blot overlay assay showed that p127 can directly interact with nonmuscle myosin II. These findings confirm that p127 is a component of a cytoskeletal network including myosin and suggest that the neoplastic transformation resulting from l(2)gl gene inactivation may be caused by the partial disruption of this network.

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