Two different mRNAs encoding two different nonmuscle myosin heavy chains (MHCs) of approximately 200 kD have been identified in chicken nonmuscle cells, in agreement with the results of Katsuragawa et al. (Katsuragawa, Y., M. Yanagisawa, A. Inoue, and T. Masaki. 1989. Eur. J. Biochem. 184:611-616). In this paper, we quantitate the content of mRNA encoding the two MHCs in a number of different tissues using RNA blot analysis with two specific oligonucleotide probes. Our results show that the relative content of mRNA encoding MHC-A and MHC-B differs in a tissue-dependent manner. Thus the ratio of mRNA encoding MHC-A versus MHC-B varies from greater than 9:1 in spleen and intestinal epithelial cells, to 6:4 in kidney and 2:8 in brain. The effect of serum on MHC mRNA expression was studied in serum-starved cultures of chick embryo fibroblasts. Serum stimulation results in a threefold increase in the mRNA encoding MHC-A and a threefold decrease in mRNA encoding MHC-B. Using SDS polyacrylamide gels, we have separated two nonmuscle MHC isoforms (198 and 196 kD) that can be distinguished from each other by two-dimensional peptide mapping of chymotryptic digests. We provide preliminary evidence that the MHC-A mRNA encodes the 196-kD polypeptide and that the MHC-B mRNA encodes the 198-kD polypeptide.

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