Schizosaccharomyces pombe cells divide by medial fission. One class of cell division mutants (cdc), the late septation mutants, defines four genes: cdc3, cdc4, cdc8, and cdc12 (Nurse, P., P. Thuriaux, and K. Nasmyth. 1976. Mol. & Gen. Genet. 146:167-178). We have cloned and characterized the cdc4 gene and show that the predicted gene product. Cdc4p, is a 141-amino acid polypeptide that is similar in sequence to EF-hand proteins including myosin light chains, calmodulin, and troponin C. Two temperature-sensitive lethal alleles, cdc4-8 and cdc4-31, accumulate multiple nuclei and multiple improper F-actin rings and septa but fail to complete cytokinesis. Deletion of cdc4 also results in a lethal terminal phenotype characterized by multinucleate, elongated cells that fail to complete cytokinesis. Sequence comparisons suggest that Cdc4p may be a member of a new class of EF-hand proteins. Cdc4p localizes to a ringlike structure in the medial region of cells undergoing cytokinesis. Thus, Cdc4p appears to be an essential component of the F-actin contractile ring. We find that Cdc4 protein forms a complex with a 200-kD protein which can be cross-linked to UTP, a property common to myosin heavy chains. Together these results suggest that Cdc4p may be a novel myosin light chain.

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