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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 1986; 83(8): 2305–2309.
PMCID: PMC323285

Immunological identification of the genes encoding the four myosin heavy chain isoforms of Caenorhabditis elegans.


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans produces four distinct myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoforms, A, B, C, and D. The MHC A and MHC B proteins are coordinately expressed in the body wall muscle and are incorporated into different regions of a single kind of thick filament. MHC C and MHC D are exclusively produced in the pharyngeal muscle. Previous studies of mutations that affect MHC B have shown that this isoform is encoded by the unc-54 gene. Three other MHC genes, myo-1, myo-2, and myo-3, were isolated from a C. elegans genomic library by hybridization with fragments of the unc-54 gene. We have now established the MHC isoform encoded by each gene. Restriction fragments from each of these genes were cloned in the plasmid expression vector pUR288, producing fusion proteins between Escherichia coli beta-galactosidase and portions of the MHC rod domains of each gene. The hybrid proteins were screened with a panel of 18 isoform-specific monoclonal antibodies. The results demonstrate that myo-1 encodes MHC D, myo-2 encodes MHC C, and myo-3 encodes MHC A.

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