A millennial myosin census

Mol Biol Cell. 2001 Apr;12(4):780-94. doi: 10.1091/mbc.12.4.780.


The past decade has seen a remarkable explosion in our knowledge of the size and diversity of the myosin superfamily. Since these actin-based motors are candidates to provide the molecular basis for many cellular movements, it is essential that motility researchers be aware of the complete set of myosins in a given organism. The availability of cDNA and/or draft genomic sequences from humans, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Arabidopsis thaliana, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and Dictyostelium discoideum has allowed us to tentatively define and compare the sets of myosin genes in these organisms. This analysis has also led to the identification of several putative myosin genes that may be of general interest. In humans, for example, we find a total of 40 known or predicted myosin genes including two new myosins-I, three new class II (conventional) myosins, a second member of the class III/ninaC myosins, a gene similar to the class XV deafness myosin, and a novel myosin sharing at most 33% identity with other members of the superfamily. These myosins are in addition to the recently discovered class XVI myosin with N-terminal ankyrin repeats and two human genes with similarity to the class XVIII PDZ-myosin from mouse. We briefly describe these newly recognized myosins and extend our previous phylogenetic analysis of the myosin superfamily to include a comparison of the complete or nearly complete inventories of myosin genes from several experimentally important organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Myosins / classification
  • Myosins / genetics*
  • Phylogeny


  • Myosins