Drosophila indirect flight muscle (IFM) contains two different types of tropomyosin: a standard 284-amino acid muscle tropomyosin, Ifm-TmI, encoded by the TmI gene, and two > 400 amino acid tropomyosins, TnH-33 and TnH-34, encoded by TmII. The two IFM-specific TnH isoforms are unique tropomyosins with a COOH-terminal extension of approximately 200 residues which is hydrophobic and rich in prolines. Previous analysis of a hypomorphic TmI mutant, Ifm(3)3, demonstrated that Ifm-TmI is necessary for proper myofibrillar assembly, but no null TmI mutant or TmII mutant which affects the TnH isoforms have been reported. In the current report, we show that four flightless mutants (Warmke et al., 1989) are alleles of TmI, and characterize a deficiency which deletes both TmI and TmII. We find that haploidy of TmI causes myofibrillar disruptions and flightless behavior, but that haploidy of TmII causes neither. Single fiber mechanics demonstrates that power output is much lower in the TmI haploid line (32% of wild-type) than in the TmII haploid line (73% of wild-type). In myofibers nearly depleted of Ifm-TmI, net power output is virtually abolished (< 1% of wild-type) despite the presence of an organized fibrillar core (approximately 20% of wild-type). The results suggest Ifm-TmI (the standard tropomyosin) plays a key role in fiber structure, power production, and flight, with reduced Ifm-TmI expression producing corresponding changes of IFM structure and function. In contrast, reduced expression of the TnH isoforms has an unexpectedly mild effect on IFM structure and function.

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