* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received September 1, 2018
Various forms of cell motility critically depend on pushing, pulling, and resistance forces generated by the actin cytoskeleton. Whereas pushing forces largely depend on actin polymerization, pulling forces responsible for cell contractility and resistance forces maintaining the cell shape require interaction of actin filaments with the multivalent molecular motor myosin II. In contrast to muscle-specific myosin II paralogs, nonmuscle myosin II (NMII) functions in virtually all mammalian cells, where it executes numerous mechanical tasks. NMII is expressed in mammalian cells as a tissue-specific combination of three paralogs, NMIIA, NMIIB, and NMIIC. Despite overall similarity, these paralogs differ in their molecular properties, which allow them to play both unique and common roles. Importantly, the three paralogs can also cooperate with each other by mixing and matching their unique capabilities. Through specialization and cooperation, NMII paralogs together execute a great variety of tasks in many different cell types. Here, we focus on mammalian NMII paralogs and review novel aspects of their kinetics, regulation, and functions in cells from the perspective of how distinct features of the three myosin II paralogs adapt them to perform specialized and joint tasks in the cells.
KEY WORDS: actin, nonmuscle myosin II, stress fibers, cytoskeleton, cell motility