• McConnell RE, Tyska MJ. Myosin-1a powers the sliding of apical membrane along microvillar actin bundles. The Journal of cell biology. 2007 May 21;177(4). 671-81. PMID: 17502425 [PubMed]. PMCID: PMC2064212.


Microvilli are actin-rich membrane protrusions common to a variety of epithelial cell types. Within microvilli of the enterocyte brush border (BB), myosin-1a (Myo1a) forms an ordered ensemble of bridges that link the plasma membrane to the underlying polarized actin bundle. Despite decades of investigation, the function of this unique actomyosin array has remained unclear. Here, we show that addition of ATP to isolated BBs induces a plus end-directed translation of apical membrane along microvillar actin bundles. Upon reaching microvillar tips, membrane is "shed" into solution in the form of small vesicles. Because this movement demonstrates the polarity, velocity, and nucleotide dependence expected for a Myo1a-driven process, and BBs lacking Myo1a fail to undergo membrane translation, we conclude that Myo1a powers this novel form of motility. Thus, in addition to providing a means for amplifying apical surface area, we propose that microvilli function as actomyosin contractile arrays that power the release of BB membrane vesicles into the intestinal lumen.