Actin is a key cytoskeletal protein with multiple roles in cellular processes such as polarized growth, cytokinesis, endocytosis, and cell migration. Actin is present in all eukaryotes as highly dynamic filamentous structures, such as linear cables and branched filaments. Detailed investigation of the molecular role of actin in various processes has been hampered due to the multifunctionality of the protein and the lack of alleles defective in specific processes. The actin cytoskeleton of the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, has been extensively characterized and contains structures analogous to those in other cell types. In this study, primarily with the view to uncover actin function in cytokinesis, we generated a large bank of fission yeast actin mutants that affect the organization of distinct actin structures and/or discrete physiological functions of actin. Our screen identified 17 mutants with specific defects in cytokinesis. Some of these cytokinesis mutants helped in dissecting the function of specific actin structures during ring assembly. Further genetic analysis of some of these actin mutants revealed multiple genetic interactions with mutants previously known to affect the actomyosin ring assembly. We also characterize a mutant allele of actin that is suppressed upon over expression of Cdc8p-tropomyosin, underscoring the utility of this mutant bank. Another 22 mutant alleles, defective in polarized growth and/or other functions of actin obtained from this screen, are also described in this article. This mutant bank should be a valuable resource to study the physiological and biochemical functions of actin.
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