Diatom gliding is the result of an actin-myosin motility system.
Diatoms are a group of unicellular microalgae that are encased in a highly ornamented siliceous cell wall, or frustule. Pennate diatoms have bilateral symmetry and many genera possess an elongated slit in the frustule called the raphe, a feature synonymous with their ability to adhere and glide over a substratum, a process little understood. We have used cytoskeleton-disrupting drugs to investigate the roles of actin, myosin, and microtubules in diatom gliding or motility. No effect on diatom gliding was observed using the cytochalasins, known actin inhibitors, or the microtubule-inhibitors oryzalin and nocodazole. The latrunculins are a new group of anti-actin drugs, and we show here that they are potent inhibitors of diatom gliding, resulting in the complete disassociation of the raphe-associated actin cables. The recovery of actin staining and motility following latrunculin treatment was extremely fast. Cells exposed to latrunculin for 12 h recovered full function and actin staining within 5 sec of the drug being removed, demonstrating that the molecular components required for this motility system are immediately available. Butanedione monoxime (BDM), a known myosin inhibitor, also reversibly inhibited diatom gliding in a manner similar to the latrunculins. This work provides evidence that diatom gliding is based on an actin/myosin motility system.
Poulsen, NC; Spector, I; Spurck, TP; Schultz, TF; Wetherbee, R
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