To investigate whether different myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoforms may constitute myofibrils in the trunk and tail musculature and if their respective expression may be regulated by spadetail (spt) and no tail (brachyury), we identified and characterized mRNA expression patterns of an embryonic- and tail muscle-specific MHC gene (named myhz2) during zebrafish development in wild type, spt, and ntl mutant embryos. The identified myhz2 MHC gene encodes a polypeptide containing 1,935 amino acids. Deduced amino acid comparisons showed that myhz2 MHC shared 92.6% sequence identity with that of carp fast skeletal MHC. Temporal and spatial myhz2 MHC mRNA expression patterns were analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR and whole-mount in situ hybridization using primer pairs and probes designed from the 3'-untranslated region (UTR). Temporally myhz2 MHC mRNA appears in pharyngula embryos and peaks in protruding-mouth larvae. The expression level decreased in 7-day-old hatching larvae, and mRNA expression was not detectable in adult fish. Spatially in pharyngula embryos, mRNA was localized only in the tail somite region, while in long-pec embryos, transcripts were also expressed in the two cranial muscle elements of the adductor mandibulae and medial rectus, as well as in pectoral fin muscles and the tail muscle region. Myhz2 MHC mRNA was expressed in most cranial muscle elements, pectoral fin muscles, and the tail muscle region of 3-day-old hatching larvae. In contrast, no expression of myhz2 MHC mRNA could be observed in spt prim-15 mutant embryos. In spt long-pec mutant embryos, transcripts were expressed in two cranial muscle elements and the tail muscle region, but not in pectoral fin muscles, while only trace amounts of myhz2 MHC mRNA were expressed in the remaining tail muscle region of 38 hpf and long-pec ntl mutant embryos.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.