Myosin isoforms contribute to the heterogeneity and adaptability of skeletal muscle fibers. Besides the well-characterized slow and fast muscle myosins, there are those isoforms that appear transiently during the course of muscle development. At a stage of development when two different myosins are coexpressed, the possibility arises for the existence of heterodimers, molecules containing two different heavy chains, or homodimers, molecules with two identical heavy chains. The question of whether neonatal and adult myosin isoforms can associate to form a stable heterodimer was addressed by using stage-specific monoclonal antibodies in conjunction with immunological and electron microscopic techniques. We find that independent of the ratio of adult to neonatal myosin, depending on the age of the animal, the myosin heavy chains form predominantly homodimeric molecules. The small amount of hybrid species present suggests that either the rod portion of the two heavy chain isoforms differs too much in sequence to form a stable alpha-helical coiled coil, or that the biosynthesis of the heavy chains precludes the formation of heterodimeric molecules.

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