Research Articles

Disruption of the Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain gene by homologous recombination

Science  29 May 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4805, pp. 1086-1091
DOI: 10.1126/science.3576222


The phenomenon of homologous recombination, which allows specific gene conversion and gene insertion, can be a powerful system for the study of eukaryotic cell biology. Data are presented demonstrating that integration of a transfected plasmid by homologous recombination occurs in the motile eukaryotic cell Dictyostelium discoideum. A plasmid carrying a G418 resistance gene and the amino terminal half of the myosin heavy chain gene was used to transfect Dictyostelium. A large fraction of the resultant G418-resistant cells had the plasmid integrated into the single genomic copy of the heavy chain gene. These cells, which fail to express the native myosin but express the myosin fragment, are defective in cytokinesis and become large and multinucleate. In spite of the absence of native myosin, these cells, termed hmm cells, exhibit many forms of cell movement, including membrane ruffling, phagocytosis, and chemotaxis. The hmm cells can aggregate but are blocked at a later stage in the Dictyostelium developmental cycle. The hmm cells revert to the wild-type phenotype. Reversion of the hmm phenotype is due to excision and loss of the transforming plasmid. The revertant cells express native myosin, are G418 sensitive, and have a normal developmental cycle. These results constitute genetic proof that the intact myosin molecule is required for cytokinesis and not for karyokinesis.

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