Using a combination of molecular and genetic techniques we demonstrate that Ifm(2)2 is an allele of the single-copy sarcomeric myosin heavy chain gene. Flies homozygous for this allele accumulate wild-type levels of mRNA and protein in tubular muscle of adults, but fail to accumulate detectable amounts of myosin heavy chain mRNA or protein in the indirect flight muscle. We propose that the mutation interferes with either transcription of the gene or splicing of the primary transcript in the indirect flight muscle and not in other muscle tissues. Biochemical and electron microscopic analysis of flies homozygous for this mutation has revealed that thick filament assembly is abolished in the indirect flight muscle resulting in the instability of wild-type thick filament proteins. In contrast, thin filament and Z disc assembly are marginally affected. We discuss a working hypothesis for sarcomere assembly and define and experimental approach to test the predictions of this proposed pathway for sarcomere assembly.

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