Myosin heavy chain isoforms regulate muscle function but not myofibril assembly

EMBO J. 1996 Sep 2;15(17):4454-9.


Myosin heavy chain (MHC) is the motor protein of muscle thick filaments. Most organisms produce many muscle MHC isoforms with temporally and spatially regulated expression patterns. This suggests that isoforms of MHC have different characteristics necessary for defining specific muscle properties. The single Drosophila muscle Mhc gene yields various isoforms as a result of alternative RNA splicing. To determine whether this multiplicity of MHC isoforms is critical to myofibril assembly and function, we introduced a gene encoding only an embryonic MHC into Drosophila melanogaster. The embryonic transgene acts in a dominant antimorphic manner to disrupt flight muscle function. The transgene was genetically crossed into an MHC null background. Unexpectedly, transformed flies expressing only the embryonic isoform are viable. Adult muscles containing embryonic MHC assemble normally, indicating that the isoform of MHC does not determine the dramatic ultrastructural variation among different muscle types. However, transformed flies are flightless and show reduced jumping and mating ability. Their indirect flight muscle myofibrils progressively deteriorate. Our data show that the proper MHC isoform is critical for specialized muscle function and myofibril stability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Germ Cells
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Muscles / ultrastructure
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / genetics
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / physiology*
  • Transgenes


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Myosin Heavy Chains