In an effort to determine diversity and function of mammalian myosin I molecules, we report here the cloning and characterization of myr 3 (third unconventional myosin from rat), a novel mammalian myosin I from rat tissues that is related to myosin I molecules from protozoa. Like the protozoan myosin I molecules, myr 3 consists of a myosin head domain, a single light chain binding motif, and a tail region that includes a COOH-terminal SH3 domain. However, myr 3 lacks the regulatory phosphorylation site present in the head domain of protozoan myosin I molecules. Evidence was obtained that the COOH terminus of the tail domain is involved in regulating F-actin binding activity of the NH2-terminal head domain. The light chain of myr 3 was identified as the Ca(2+)-binding protein calmodulin. Northern blot and immunoblot analyses revealed that myr 3 is expressed in many tissues and cell lines. Immunofluorescence studies with anti-myr 3 antibodies in NRK cells demonstrated that myr 3 is localized in the cytoplasm and in elongated structures at regions of cell-cell contact. These elongated structures contained F-actin and alpha-actinin but were devoid of vinculin. Incubation of NRK cells with Con A stimulated the formation of myr 3-containing structures along cell-cell contacts. These results suggest for myr 3 a function mediated by cell-cell contact.

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