Nematode sperm


conservation is explained by the variety of critical functions that depend on the cytoskeleton. A mutation in a cy-toskeleton protein subunit could disrupt the assembly of filaments and their binding to other proteins. Analyses of gene sequences and protein structures have identified bacterial homologs of actin and tubulin. The absence of IF-like proteins in bacteria and unicellular eukaryotes is evidence that intermediate filaments appeared later in the evolution of the cytoskeletal system. The first IF protein to arise was most likely a nuclear lamin from which cytosolic IF proteins later evolved.

The simple bacterial cytoskeleton controls cell length, width, and the site of cell division. The FtsZ protein, a bacterial homolog of tubulin, is localized around the neck of dividing bacterial cells, suggesting that FtsZ participates in cell division (Figure 5-30b). The results of biochemical experiments with purified FtsZ demonstrate that it can polymerize into protofilaments, but these protofilaments do not assemble into intact microtubules. Another bacterial protein, MreB, has been found to be similar to actin in atomic structure and filament structure—strong evidence that actin evolved from MreB. Clues to the function of MreB include its localization in a filament that girdles rod-shaped bacterial cells, its absence from spherical bacteria, and the finding that mutant cells lacking MreB become wider but not longer. These observations suggest MreB controls the width of rod-shaped bacteria.

forming a meshwork, connect microvilli and are tethered to junctions between cells. Lamin intermediate filaments support the inner nuclear membrane. Finally, microtubules, aligned with the long axis of the cell, are in close proximity to major cell organelles such as the endoplasmic reticu-lum, Golgi complex, and vesicles.

The cytoskeleton has been highly conserved in evolution. A comparison of gene sequences shows only a small percentage of differences in sequence between yeast actin and tubulin and human actin and tubulin. This structural

▲ FIGURE 5-30 Schematic depiction of the distribution of cytoskeletal filaments in eukaryotic cells and bacterial cells.

(a) In absorptive epithelial cells, actin filaments (red) are concentrated in the apical region and in a narrow band in the basolateral region. Microtubules (blue) are oriented with the long axis of the cell, and intermediate filaments (green) are concentrated along the cell periphery especially at specialized junctions with neighboring cells and lining the nuclear membrane. (b) In a rod-shaped bacterial cell, filaments of MreB, the bacterial actin homolog, ring the cell and constrict its width. The bacterial tubulin homolog, FtsZ, forms filaments at the site of cell division.

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