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Ponticulin is a 17-kD glycoprotein that represents a major high affinity link between the plasma membrane and the cortical actin network of Dictyostelium. To assess the role of ponticulin in pseudopod extension and retraction, the motile behavior of two independently generated mutants lacking ponticulin was analyzed using computer- assisted two- and three-dimensional motion analysis systems. More than half of the lateral pseudopods formed off the substratum by ponticulin- minus cells slipped relative to the substratum during extension and retraction. In contrast, all pseudopods formed off the substratum by wild-type cells were positionally fixed in relation to the substratum. Ponticulin-minus cells also formed a greater proportion of both anterior and lateral pseudopods off the substratum and absorbed a greater proportion of lateral pseudopods into the uropod than wild-type cells. In a spatial gradient of cAMP, ponticulin-minus cells were less efficient in tracking the source of chemoattractant. Since ponticulin- minus cells extend and retract pseudopods with the same time course as wild-type cells, these behavioral defects in ponticulin-minus cells appear to be the consequence of pseudopod slippage. These results demonstrate that pseudopods formed off the substratum by wild-type cells are positionally fixed in relation to the substratum, that ponticulin is required for positional stabilization, and that the loss of ponticulin and the concomitant loss of positional stability of pseudopods correlate with a decrease in the efficiency of chemotaxis.