Septin proteins are necessary for cytokinesis in budding yeast and Drosophila and are thought to be the subunits of the yeast neck filaments. To test whether septins actually form filaments, an immunoaffinity approach was used to isolate a septin complex from Drosophila embryos. The purified complex is comprised of the three previously identified septin polypeptides Pnut, Sep2, and Sep1. Hydrodynamic and sequence data suggest that the complex is composed of a heterotrimer of homodimers. The complex copurifies with one molecule of bound guanine nucleotide per septin polypeptide. It binds and hydrolyzes exogenously added GTP. These observations together with conserved sequence motifs identify the septins as members of the GTPase superfamily. We discuss a model of filament structure and speculate as to how the filaments are organized within cells.

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