Localization of myosin II to chromosome arms and spindle fibers in PtK1 cells: a possible role for an actomyosin system in mitosis

Protoplasma. 2005 Apr;225(1-2):113-22. doi: 10.1007/s00709-005-0085-7. Epub 2005 May 4.


The enzymes of importance in moving chromosomes are called motor proteins and include dynein, kinesin, and possibly myosin II. These three molecules are all included in the category of ATPases, in that they have the ability to convert chemical energy into mechanical energy. Both dynein and kinesin have been documented as molecules that "walk" along microtubules in the mitotic spindle, carrying cargo such as chromosomes. Myosin II, analogous to the muscle contraction system, transiently interacts along actin filaments and associates with kinetochore microtubules. In this paper we present evidence that a third ATPase, myosin II, may act as a "thruster" to propel chromosomes during the mitotic process. Double-label immunocytochemistry to actin and myosin II shows that myosin II is localized on chromosome arms at the beginning of mitosis and remains localized to the chromosomes throughout mitosis. Specific staining of myosin II is relegated to the outside of chromosomes with the highest density of staining occurring between the spindle poles and the chromosomes. This specific localization could account for the movement of chromosomes during mitosis, since they segregate towards the spindle poles, along kinetochore microtubules containing actin filaments, after aligning at the equatorial region of the cell at metaphase. We conclude from this study that there is an actomyosin system present in the mitotic spindle and that myosin is attached to chromosome arms and may act as a thruster in moving chromosomes during the mitotic process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actomyosin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Actomyosin / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Line
  • Chromosomes / metabolism*
  • Cytochalasins / pharmacology
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Mitosis / physiology
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism
  • Myosin Type II / metabolism*
  • Potoroidae
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism*


  • Cytochalasins
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • cytochalasin J
  • Actomyosin
  • Myosin Type II