Myosin light chains labeled with rhodamine are incorporated into myosin-containing structures when microinjected into live muscle and nonmuscle cells. A mixture of myosin light chains was prepared from chicken skeletal muscle, labeled with the fluorescent dye iodoacetamido rhodamine, and separated into individual labeled light chains, LC-1, LC-2, and LC-3. In isolated rabbit and insect myofibrils, the fluorescent light chains bound in a doublet pattern in the A bands with no binding in the cross-bridge-free region in the center of the A bands. When injected into living embryonic chick myotubes and cardiac myocytes, the fluorescent light chains were also incorporated along the complete length of the A band with the exception of the pseudo-H zone. In young myotubes (3-4 d old), myosin was localized in aperiodic as well as periodic fibers. The doublet A band pattern first appeared in 5-d-old myotubes, which also exhibited the first signs of contractility. In 6-d and older myotubes, A bands became increasingly more aligned, their edges sharper, and the separation between them (I bands) wider. In nonmuscle cells, the microinjected fluorescent light chains were incorporated in a striated pattern in stress fibers and were absent from foci and attachment plaques. When the stress fibers of live injected cells were disrupted with DMSO, fluorescently labeled myosin light chains were present in the cytoplasm but did not enter the nucleus. Removal of the DMSO led to the reformation of banded, fluorescent stress fibers within 45 min. In dividing cells, myosin light chains were concentrated in the cleavage furrow and became reincorporated in stress fibers after cytokinesis. Thus, injected nonmuscle cells can disassemble and reassemble contractile fibers using hybrid myosin molecules that contain muscle light chains and nonmuscle heavy chains. Our experiments demonstrate that fluorescently labeled myosin light chains from muscle can be readily incorporated into muscle and nonmuscle myosins and then used to follow the dynamics of myosin distribution in living cells.

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