Dictyostelium cells that lack the myoB isoform were previously shown to exhibit reduced efficiencies of phagocytosis and chemotactic aggregation ("streaming") and to crawl at about half the speed of wild-type cells. Of the four other Dictyostelium myosin I isoforms identified to date, myoC and myoD are the most similar to myoB in terms of tail domain sequence. Furthermore, we show here that myoC, like myoB and myoD, is concentrated in actin-rich cortical regions like the leading edge of migrating cells. To look for evidence of functional overlap between these isoforms, we analyzed myoB, myoC, and myoD single mutants, myoB/myoD double mutants, and myoB/myoC/myoD triple mutants, which were created using a combination of gene targeting techniques and constitutive expression of antisense RNA. With regard to the speed of locomoting, aggregation-stage cells, of the three single mutants, only the myoB mutant was significantly slower. Moreover, double and triple mutants were only slightly slower than the myoB single mutant. Consistent with this, the protein level of myoB alone rises dramatically during early development, suggesting that a special demand is placed on this one isoform when cells become highly motile. We also found, however, that the absolute amount of myoB protein in aggregation-stage cells is much higher than that for myoC and myoD, suggesting that what appears to be a case of nonoverlapping function could be the result of large differences in the amounts of functionally overlapping isoforms. Streaming assays also suggest that myoC plays a significant role in some aspect of motility other than cell speed. With regard to phagocytosis, both myoB and myoC single mutants exhibited significant reductions in initial rate, suggesting that these two isoforms perform nonredundant roles in supporting the phagocytic process. In triple mutants these defects were not additive, however. Finally, because double and triple mutants exhibited significant and progressive decreases in doubling times, we also measured the kinetics of fluid phase endocytic flux (uptake, transit time, efflux). Not only do all three isoforms contribute to this process, but their contributions are synergistic. While these results, when taken together, refute the simple notion that these three "classic" myosin I isoforms perform exclusively identical functions, they do reveal that all three share in supporting at least one cellular process (endocytosis), and they identify several other processes (motility, streaming, and phagocytosis) that are supported to a significant extent by either individual isoforms or various combinations of them.

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