Similar to higher animal cells, ameba cells of the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum form contractile rings containing filaments of myosin II during mitosis, and it is generally believed that contraction of these rings bisects the cells both on substrates and in suspension. In suspension, mutant cells lacking the single myosin II heavy chain gene cannot carry out cytokinesis, become large and multinucleate, and eventually lyze, supporting the idea that myosin II plays critical roles in cytokinesis. These mutant cells are however viable on substrates. Detailed analyses of these mutant cells on substrates revealed that, in addition to ″classic″ cytokinesis which depends on myosin II (″cytokinesis A″), Dictyostelium has two distinct, novel methods of cytokinesis, 1) attachment-assisted mitotic cleavage employed by myosin II null cells on substrates (″cytokinesis B″), and 2) cytofission, a cell cycle-independent division of adherent cells (″cytokinesis C″). Cytokinesis A, B, and C lose their function and demand fewer protein factors in this order. Cytokinesis B is of particular importance for future studies. Similar to cytokinesis A, cytokinesis B involves formation of a cleavage furrow in the equatorial region, and it may be a primitive but basic mechanism of efficiently bisecting a cell in a cell cycle- coupled manner. Analysis of large, multinucleate myosin II null cells suggested that interactions between astral microtubules and cortices positively induce polar protrusive activities in telophase. A model is proposed to explain how such polar activities drive cytokinesis B, and how cytokinesis B is coordinated with cytokinesis A in wild type cells.
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