Myosin isoforms A and B are differentially localized to the central and polar regions, respectively, of thick filaments in body wall muscle cells of Caenorhabditis elegans (Miller, D. M. III, I. Ortiz, G. C. Berliner, and H. F. Epstein, 1983, Cell, 34:477-490). Biochemical and electron microscope studies of KCl-dissociated filaments show that the myosin isoforms occupy a surface domain, paramyosin constitutes an intermediate domain, and a newly identified core structure exists. The diameters of the thick filaments vary significantly from 33.4 nm centrally to 14.0 nm near the ends. The latter value is comparable to the 15.2 nm diameter of the core structures. The internal density of the filament core appears solid medially and hollow at the poles. The differentiation of thick filament structure into supramolecular domains possessing specific substructures of characteristic stabilities suggests a sequential mode for thick filament assembly. In this model, the two myosin isoforms have distinct roles in assembly. The behavior of the myosins, including nucleation of assembly and determination of filament length, depend upon paramyosin and the core structure as well as their intrinsic molecular properties.

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