Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies that bind to myosin-II were tested for their ability to inhibit myosin ATPase activity, actomyosin ATPase activity, and contraction of cytoplasmic extracts. Numerous antibodies specifically inhibit the actin activated Mg++-ATPase activity of myosin-II in a dose-dependent fashion, but none blocked the ATPase activity of myosin alone. Control antibodies that do not bind to myosin-II and several specific antibodies that do bind have no effect on the actomyosin-II ATPase activity. In most cases, the saturation of a single antigenic site on the myosin-II heavy chain is sufficient for maximal inhibition of function. Numerous monoclonal antibodies also block the contraction of gelled extracts of Acanthamoeba cytoplasm. No polyclonal antibodies tested inhibited ATPase activity or gel contraction. As expected, most antibodies that block actin-activated ATPase activity also block gel contraction. Exceptions were three antibodies M2.2, -15, and -17, that appear to uncouple the ATPase activity from gel contraction: they block gel contraction without influencing ATPase activity. The mechanisms of inhibition of myosin function depends on the location of the antibody-binding sites. Those inhibitory antibodies that bind to the myosin-II heads presumably block actin binding or essential conformational changes in the myosin heads. A subset of the antibodies that bind to the proximal end of the myosin-II tail inhibit actomyosin-II ATPase activity and gel contraction. Although this part of the molecule is presumably some distance from the ATP and actin-binding sites, these antibody effects suggest that structural domains in this region are directly involved with or coupled to catalysis and energy transduction. A subset of the antibodies that bind to the tip of the myosin-II tail appear to inhibit ATPase activity and contraction through their inhibition of filament formation. They provide strong evidence for a substantial enhancement of the ATPase activity of myosin molecules in filamentous form and suggest that the myosin filaments may be required for cell motility.

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