The formation and contraction of a cytokinetic actomyosin ring (CAR) is essential for the execution of cytokinesis in fission yeast. Unlike most organisms in which its composition has been investigated, the fission yeast CAR contains two type II myosins encoded by the genes myo2(+) and myp2(+). myo2(+) is an essential gene whilst myp2(+) is dispensable under normal growth conditions. Myo2 is hence the major contractile protein of the CAR whilst Myp2 plays a more subtle and, as yet, incompletely documented role. Using a fission yeast strain in which the chromosomal copy of the myo2(+) gene is fused to the gene encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP), we analysed CAR formation and function in the presence and absence of Myp2. No change in the rate of CAR contraction was observed when Myp2 was absent although the CAR persisted longer in the contracted state and was occasionally observed to split into two discrete rings. This was also observed in myp2Delta cells following actin depolymerisation with latrunculin. CAR contraction in the absence of Myp2 was completely abolished in the presence of elevated levels of chloride ions. Thus, Myp2 appears to contribute to the stability of the CAR, in particular at a late stage of CAR contraction, and to be a component of the signalling pathway that regulates cytokinesis in response to elevated levels of chloride. To determine whether the presence of two type II myosins was a feature of cytokinesis in other fungi that divide by septation, we searched the genomes of two filamentous fungi, Aspergillus fumigatus and Neurospora crassa, for myosin genes. As in fission yeast, both A. fumigatus and N. crassa contained myosins of classes I, II, and V. Unlike fission yeast, both contained a single type II myosin gene that, on the basis of its tail structure, was more reminiscent of Myp2 than Myo2. The significance of these observations to our understanding of septum to formation and cleavage is discussed.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.