Deciphering the role of UBA-like domains in intraflagellar distribution and functions of myosin XXI in Leishmania

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Myosin XXI (Myo21) is a novel class of myosin present in all kinetoplastid parasites, such as Trypanosoma and Leishmania. This protein in Leishmania promastigotes is predominantly localized to the proximal region of the flagellum, and is involved in the flagellum assembly, cell motility and intracellular vesicle transport. As Myo21 contains two ubiquitin associated (UBA)-like domains (UBLD) in its amino acid sequence, we considered it of interest to analyze the role of these domains in the intracellular distribution and functions of this protein in Leishmania cells. In this context, we created green fluorescent protein (GFP)-conjugates of Myo21 constructs lacking one of the two UBLDs at a time or both the UBLDs as well as GFP-conjugates of only the two UBLDs and Myo21 tail lacking the two UBLDs and separately expressed them in the Leishmania cells. Our results show that unlike Myo21-GFP, Myo21-GFP constructs lacking either one or both the UBLDs failed to concentrate and co-distribute with actin in the proximal region of the flagellum. Nevertheless, the GFP conjugate of only the two UBLDs was found to predominantly localize to the flagellum base. Additionally, the cells that expressed only one or both the UBLDs-deleted Myo21-GFP constructs possessed shorter flagellum and displayed slower motility, compared to Myo21-GFP expressing cells. Further, the intracellular vesicle transport and cell growth were severely impaired in the cells that expressed both the UBLDs deleted Myo21-GFP construct, but in contrast, virtually no effect was observed on the intracellular vesicle transport and growth in the cells that expressed single UBLD deleted mutant proteins. Moreover, the observed slower growth of both the UBLDs-deleted Myo21-GFP expressing cells was primarily due to delayed G2/M phase caused by aberrant nuclear and daughter cell segregation during their cell division process. These results taken together clearly reveal that the presence of UBLDs in Myo21 are essentially required for its predominant localization to the flagellum base, and perhaps also in its involvement in the flagellum assembly and cell division. Possible role of UBLDs in involvement of Myo21 during Leishmania flagellum assembly and cell cycle is discussed.



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