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EMBO J. 1989 Mar;8(3):913-22.

Identification of the gene for fly non-muscle myosin heavy chain: Drosophila myosin heavy chains are encoded by a gene family.

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Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02128.

Erratum in

  • EMBO J 1989 Jun;8(6):1896.


In contrast to vertebrate species Drosophila has a single myosin heavy chain gene that apparently encodes all sarcomeric heavy chain polypeptides. Flies also contain a cytoplasmic myosin heavy chain polypeptide that by immunological and peptide mapping criteria is clearly different from the major thoracic muscle isoform. Here, we identify the gene that encodes this cytoplasmic isoform and demonstrate that it is distinct from the muscle myosin heavy chain gene. Thus, fly myosin heavy chains are the products of a gene family. Our data suggest that the contractile function required to power myosin based movement in non-muscle cells requires myosin diversity beyond that available in a single heavy chain gene. In addition, we show, that accumulation of cytoplasmic myosin transcripts is regulated in a developmental stage specific fashion, consistent with a key role for this protein in the movements of early embryogenesis.

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