The tails of double-headed myosin molecules consist of an alpha-helical/coiled-coil structure composed of two identical polypeptides with a heptad repeat of hydrophobic amino acids that starts immediately after a conserved proline near position 847. Both muscle and nonmuscle myosins have this heptad repeat and it has been assumed that proline 847 is physically located at the head-tail junction. We present two lines of evidence that this assumption is incorrect. First, we localized the binding sites of several monoclonal antibodies on Acanthamoeba myosin-II both physically, by electron microscopy, and chemically, with a series of truncated myosin-II peptides produced in bacteria. These data indicate that the head-tail junction is located near residue 900. Second, we compared the lengths of two truncated recombinant myosin-II tails with native myosin-II. The distances from the NH2 termini to the tips of these short tails confirms the rise per residue (0.148 nm/residue) and establishes that the 86-nm tail of myosin-II must start near residue 900. We propose that the first 53 residues of heptad repeat of Acanthamoeba myosin-II and other myosins are located in the heads and the proteolytic separation of S-1 from rod occurs within the heads.

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