In search of the regulation mechanisms for isoform specific myosin assembly, we have used the COOH-terminal fragments of nonmuscle myosin isoforms MIIA and MIIB (MIIA(F46) and MIIB(alpha)(F47)) as a model system. Phosphorylation by protein kinase C (PK C) or casein kinase II (CK II) within or near the nonhelical tail-end domain inhibits assembly of MIIB(alpha)(F47) [Murakami, N., et al. (1998) Biochemistry 37, 1989]. In the study presented here, we mutated the kinase sites to analyze the inhibition mechanisms of MIIB assembly by phosphorylation. Replacement of the CK II or PK C sites with Asp (MIIB(alpha)(F47)-CK-5D or -PK-4D) strongly inhibited the filament assembly, with or without Mg(2+), by significantly increasing the critical concentrations for assembly. Without Mg(2+), MIIB(alpha)(F47)-CK-5D or -PK-4D inhibited the assembly of wild-type (wt) MIIB(alpha)(F47) by either mixing as homofragments or forming heterofragments. With 2.5 mM Mg(2+), MIIB(alpha)(F47)-wt promoted assembly of MIIB(alpha)(F47)-CK-5D and -PK-4D in homofragment mixtures, but not by forming heterofragments. MIIA(F46) coassembled with MIIB(alpha)(F47)-wt and -CK-5D and altered their assembly patterns. In contrast, assembly of MIIB(alpha)(F47)-PK-4D was unchanged by MIIA(F46). A metastasis-associated protein, mts 1, bound in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner to MIIA(F46), but not appreciably to MIIB(alpha)(F47). At 0.15 M NaCl, mts 1-Ca(2+) not only inhibited MIIA(F46) assembly but also disassembled the MIIA(F46) filaments. Mts 1, however, did not affect the assembly of MIIB(alpha)(F47) in MIIA(F46) and MIIB(alpha)(F47) mixtures, indicating that mts 1 is an inhibitor specific to MIIA assembly. Our results suggest strongly that assembly of MIIA and MIIB is regulated by distinct mechanisms via tail-end domains: phosphorylation of MIIB and mts 1 binding to MIIA. These mechanisms may also function to form MIIA or MIIB homofilaments by selectively inhibiting MIIB or MIIA assembly.