Myosins are eukaryotic actin-dependent molecular motors that play important roles in many cellular events. The function of each myosin is determined by a variety of functional domains in its tail region. In some major model organisms, the functions and properties of myosins have been investigated based on their amino acid sequences. However, in protists, myosins have been little studied beyond the level of genome sequences. We therefore investigated the mRNA expression levels and amino acid sequences of 13 myosin genes in the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila. This study is an overview of myosins in T. thermophila, which has no typical myosins, such as class I, II, or V myosins. We showed that all 13 myosins were expressed in vegetative cells. Furthermore, these myosins could be divided into 3 subclasses based on four functional domains in their tail regions. Subclass 1 comprised of 8 myosins has both MyTH4 and FERM domains, and has a potential to function in vesicle transport or anchoring between membrane and actin filaments. Subclass 2 comprised of 4 myosins has RCC1 (regulator of chromosome condensation 1) domains, which are found only in some protists, and may have unconventional features. Subclass 3 is comprised of one myosin, which has a long coiled-coil domain like class II myosin. In addition, phylogenetic analysis on the basis of motor domains showed that T. thermophila myosins are separated into two clusters: one consists of subclasses 1 and 2, and the other consists of subclass 3.
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