In this report we show that Drosophila melanogaster muscles contain the standard form of the thick filament protein paramyosin, as well as a novel paramyosin isoform, which we call miniparamyosin. We have isolated Drosophila paramyosin using previously established methods. This protein is approximately 105 kD and cross-reacts with polyclonal antibodies made against Caenorhabditis elegans or Heliocopris dilloni paramyosin. The Heliocopris antibody also cross-reacts with a approximately 55-kD protein which may be miniparamyosin. We have cloned and sequenced cDNA's encoding both Drosophila isoforms. Standard paramyosin has short nonhelical regions at each terminus flanking the expected alpha-helical heptad repeat seen in other paramyosins and in myosin heavy chains. The COOH-terminal 363 amino acids are identical in standard and miniparamyosin. However, the smaller isoform has 114 residues at the NH2 terminus that are unique as compared to the current protein sequence data base. The paramyosin gene is located at chromosome position 66E1. It appears to use two promoters to generate mRNA's that have either of two different 5' coding sequences joined to common 3' exons. Each protein isoform is encoded by two transcripts that differ only in the usage of polyadenylation signals. This results in four size classes of paramyosin mRNA which are expressed in a developmentally regulated pattern consistent with that observed for other muscle-specific RNA's in Drosophila. In situ hybridization to Drosophila tissue sections shows that standard paramyosin is expressed in all larval and adult muscle tissues whereas miniparamyosin is restricted to a subset of the adult musculature. Thus miniparamyosin is a novel muscle-specific protein that likely plays a role in thick filament structure or function in some adult muscles of Drosophila.

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