The role of vertebrate nonmuscle Myosin II in development and human disease

Bioarchitecture. 2014;4(3):88-102. doi: 10.4161/bioa.29766. Epub 2014 Aug 6.


Three different genes each located on a different chromosome encode the heavy chains of nonmuscle myosin II in humans and mice. This review explores the functional consequences of the presence of three isoforms during embryonic development and beyond. The roles of the various isoforms in cell division, cell-cell adhesion, blood vessel formation and neuronal cell migration are addressed in animal models and at the cellular level. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of nonmuscle myosin II during cardiac and brain development, and during closure of the neural tube and body wall. Questions addressed include the consequences on organ development, of lowering or ablating a particular isoform as well as the effect of substituting one isoform for another, all in vivo. Finally the roles of the three isoforms in human diseases such as cancer as well as in syndromes affecting a variety of organs in humans are reviewed.

Keywords: Body Wall Closure; Cancer; Cell Adhesion; Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia; Cytokinesis; Double Outlet of Right Ventricle; Karyokinesis; MYH9-RD; Neuronal Migration; Pentalogy of Cantrell; Placental Vascular Formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Embryonic Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Morphogenesis / physiology*
  • Myosin Type II / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Myosin Type II