William Kronert's Home Page: Abstract Section


J Biol Chem. 290: 29270–29280 (2015)


Kronert WA, Melkani GC, Melkani A, Bernstein SI.

Our molecular modeling studies suggest a charge-dependent interaction between residues Glu-497 in the relay domain and Arg-712 in the converter domain of human β-cardiac myosin. To test the significance of this putative interaction, we generated transgenic Drosophila expressing indirect flight muscle myosin with charge reversal mutations in the relay (E496R) or converter (R713E). Each mutation yielded dramatic reductions in myosin Ca-ATPase activity (∼80%) as well as in basal (∼67%) and actin-activated (∼84%) Mg-ATPase activity. E496R myosin-induced in vitro actin-sliding velocity was reduced by 71% and R713E myosin permitted no actin motility. Indirect flight muscles of late pupae from each mutant displayed disrupted myofibril assembly, with adults having severely abnormal myofibrils and no flight ability. To understand the molecular basis of these defects, we constructed a putative compensatory mutant that expresses myosin with both E496R and R713E. Intriguingly, ATPase values were restored to ∼73% of wild-type and actin-sliding velocity increased to 40%. The double mutation suppresses myofibril assembly defects in pupal indirect flight muscles and dramatically reduces myofibril disruption in young adults. Although sarcomere organization is not sustained in older flies and flight ability is not restored in homozygotes, young heterozygotes fly well. Our results indicate that this charge-dependent interaction between the myosin relay and converter domains is essential to the mechanochemical cycle and sarcomere assembly. Furthermore, the same inter-domain interaction is disrupted when modeling human β-cardiac myosin heavy chain cardiomyopathy mutations E497D or R712L, implying that abolishing this salt bridge is one cause of the human disease.


Cardiovasc Res.110(2):238-48 (2016).

Profilin modulates sarcomeric organization and mediates cardiomyocyte hypertrophy.

Kooij V, Viswanathan MC, Lee DI2, Rainer PP, Schmidt W, Kronert WA, Harding SE, Kass DA, Bernstein SI, Van Eyk JE, Cammarato A.

Heart failure is often preceded by cardiac hypertrophy, which is characterized by increased cell size, altered protein abundance, and actin cytoskeletal reorganization. Profilin is a well-conserved, ubiquitously expressed, multifunctional actin-binding protein, and its role in cardiomyocytes is largely unknown. Given its involvement in vascular hypertrophy, we aimed to test the hypothesis that profilin-1 is a key mediator of cardiomyocyte-specific hypertrophic remodelling.

Profilin-1 was elevated in multiple mouse models of hypertrophy, and a cardiomyocyte-specific increase of profilin in Drosophila resulted in significantly larger heart tube dimensions. Moreover, adenovirus-mediated overexpression of profilin-1 in neonatal rat ventricular myocytes (NRVMs) induced a hypertrophic response, measured by increased myocyte size and gene expression. Profilin-1 silencing suppressed the response in NRVMs stimulated with phenylephrine or endothelin-1. Mechanistically, we found that profilin-1 regulates hypertrophy, in part, through activation of the ERK1/2 signalling cascade. Confocal microscopy showed that profilin localized to the Z-line of Drosophila myofibrils under normal conditions and accumulated near the M-line when overexpressed. Elevated profilin levels resulted in elongated sarcomeres, myofibrillar disorganization, and sarcomeric disarray, which correlated with impaired muscle function.

Our results identify novel roles for profilin as an important mediator of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. We show that overexpression of profilin is sufficient to induce cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and sarcomeric remodelling, and silencing of profilin attenuates the hypertrophic response.


J Biol Chem. Mar 13 (2014)

Mapping Interactions Between Myosin Relay and Converter Domains that Power Muscle Function.

William A. Kronert, Girish C. Melkani, Anju Melkani, and Sanford I. Bernstein

Intra-molecular communication within myosin is essential for its function as motor, but the specific amino acid residue interactions required are unexplored within muscle cells. Using Drosophila melanogaster skeletal muscle myosin, we performed a novel in vivo molecular suppression analysis to define the importance of three relay loop amino acid residues (I508, N509 and D511) in communicating with converter domain residue R759. We find that the N509K relay mutation suppresses defects in myosin ATPase, in vitro motility, myofibril stability and muscle function associated with the R759E converter mutation. Through molecular modeling we define a mechanism for this interaction and suggest why the I508K and D511K relay mutations fail to suppress R759E. Interestingly, I508K disables motor function and myofibril assembly, suggesting productive relay-converter interaction is essential for both processes. We conclude that the putative relay-converter interaction mediated by myosin residues 509 and 759 is critical for the biochemical and biophysical function of skeletal muscle myosin and the normal ultrastructural and mechanical properties of muscle.


J Mol Biol. 416:543-557 (2012)

Alternative relay and converter domains tune native muscle myosin isoform function in Drosophila.

Kronert WA, Melkani GC, Melkani A, Bernstein SI.

Myosin isoforms help define muscle-specific contractile and structural properties. Alternative splicing of myosin heavy chain gene transcripts in Drosophila melanogaster yields muscle-specific isoforms and highlights alternative domains that fine-tune myosin function. To gain insight into how native myosin is tuned, we expressed three embryonic myosin isoforms in indirect flight muscles lacking endogenous myosin. These isoforms differ in their relay and/or converter domains. We analyzed isoform-specific ATPase activities, in vitro actin motility and myofibril structure/stability. We find that dorsal acute body wall muscle myosin (EMB-9c11d) shows a significant increase in MgATPase V(max) and actin sliding velocity, as well as abnormal myofibril assembly compared to cardioblast myosin (EMB-11d). These properties differ as a result of alternative exon-9-encoded relay domains that are hypothesized to communicate signals among the ATP-binding pocket, actin-binding site and the converter domain. Further, EMB-11d shows significantly reduced levels of basal Ca- and MgATPase as well as MgATPase V(max) compared to embryonic body wall muscle isoform (EMB) (expressed in a multitude of body wall muscles). EMB-11d also induces increased actin sliding velocity and stabilizes myofibril structure compared to EMB. These differences arise from exon-11-encoded alternative converter domains that are proposed to reposition the lever arm during the power and recovery strokes. We conclude that relay and converter domains of native myosin isoforms fine-tune ATPase activity, actin motility and muscle ultrastructure. This verifies and extends previous studies with chimeric molecules and indicates that interactions of the relay and converter during the contractile cycle are key to myosin-isoform-specific kinetic and mechanical functions.


Mol Biol Cell. 23:2057-65 (2012).

Expression of the inclusion body myopathy 3 mutation in Drosophila depresses myosin function and stability and recapitulates muscle inclusions and weakness.

Wang Y, Melkani GC, Suggs JA, Melkani A, Kronert WA, Cammarato A, Bernstein SI.

Hereditary myosin myopathies are characterized by variable clinical features. Inclusion body myopathy 3 (IBM-3) is an autosomal dominant disease associated with a missense mutation (E706K) in the myosin heavy chain IIa gene. Adult patients experience progressive muscle weakness. Biopsies reveal dystrophic changes, rimmed vacuoles with cytoplasmic inclusions, and focal disorganization of myofilaments. We constructed a transgene encoding E706K myosin and expressed it in Drosophila (E701K) indirect flight and jump muscles to establish a novel homozygous organism with homogeneous populations of fast IBM-3 myosin and muscle fibers. Flight and jump abilities were severely reduced in homozygotes. ATPase and actin sliding velocity of the mutant myosin were depressed >80% compared with wild-type myosin. Light scattering experiments and electron microscopy revealed that mutant myosin heads bear a dramatic propensity to collapse and aggregate. Thus E706K (E701K) myosin appears far more labile than wild-type myosin. Furthermore, mutant fly fibers exhibit ultrastructural hallmarks seen in patients, including cytoplasmic inclusions containing aberrant proteinaceous structures and disorganized muscle filaments. Our Drosophila model reveals the unambiguous consequences of the IBM-3 lesion on fast muscle myosin and fibers. The abnormalities observed in myosin function and muscle ultrastructure likely contribute to muscle weakness observed in our flies and patients.


J. Cell Sci. 24: 699-705. (2011)

Drosophila UNC-45 accumulates in embryonic blastoderm and in muscles and is essential for muscle myosin stability.

Lee, C. F., G. C. Melkani, Q. Yu, J. A. Suggs, W. A. Kronert, Y. Suzuki, L. Hipolito, M. G. Price, H. F. Epstein and S. I. Bernstein

UNC-45 is a chaperone that facilitates folding of myosin motor domains. We have used Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the role of UNC-45 in muscle development and function. Drosophila UNC-45 (dUNC-45) is expressed at all developmental stages. It colocalizes with non-muscle myosin in embryonic blastoderm of 2-hour-old embryos. At 14 hours, it accumulates most strongly in embryonic striated muscles, similarly to muscle myosin. dUNC-45 localizes to the Z-discs of sarcomeres in third instar larval body-wall muscles. We produced a dunc-45 mutant in which zygotic expression is disrupted. This results in nearly undetectable dUNC-45 levels in maturing embryos as well as late embryonic lethality. Muscle myosin accumulation is robust in dunc-45 mutant embryos at 14 hours. However, myosin is dramatically decreased in the body-wall muscles of 22-hour-old mutant embryos. Furthermore, electron microscopy showed only a few thick filaments and irregular thick-thin filament lattice spacing. The lethality, defective protein accumulation, and ultrastructural abnormalities are rescued with a wild-type dunc-45 transgene, indicating that the mutant phenotypes arise from the dUNC-45 deficiency. Overall, our data indicate that dUNC-45 is important for myosin accumulation and muscle function. Furthermore, our results suggest that dUNC-45 acts post-translationally for proper myosin folding and maturation.


J. Mol. Biol. 398: 625-632. (2010)

Mutating the converter-relay interface of Drosophila myosin perturbs ATPase activity, actin motility, myofibril stability and flight ability.

Kronert, W. A., G. C. Melkani, A. Melkani and S. I. Bernstein.

We used an integrative approach to probe the significance of the interaction between the relay loop and converter domain of the myosin molecular motor from Drosophila melanogaster indirect flight muscle. During the myosin mechanochemical cycle, ATP-induced twisting of the relay loop is hypothesized to reposition the converter, resulting in cocking of the contiguous lever arm into the pre-power stroke configuration. The subsequent movement of the lever arm through its power stroke generates muscle contraction by causing myosin heads to pull on actin filaments. We generated a transgenic line expressing myosin with a mutation in the converter domain (R759E) at a site of relay loop interaction. Molecular modeling suggests that the interface between the relay loop and converter domain of R759E myosin would be significantly disrupted during the mechanochemical cycle. The mutation depressed calcium as well as basal and actin-activated MgATPase (V(max)) by approximately 60% compared to wild-type myosin, but there is no change in apparent actin affinity (K(m)). While ATP or AMP-PNP (adenylyl-imidodiphosphate) binding to wild-type myosin subfragment-1 enhanced tryptophan fluorescence by approximately 15% or approximately 8%, respectively, enhancement does not occur in the mutant. This suggests that the mutation reduces lever arm movement. The mutation decreases in vitro motility of actin filaments by approximately 35%. Mutant pupal indirect flight muscles display normal myofibril assembly, myofibril shape, and double-hexagonal arrangement of thick and thin filaments. Two-day-old fibers have occasional "cracking" of the crystal-like array of myofilaments. Fibers from 1-week-old adults show more severe cracking and frayed myofibrils with some disruption of the myofilament lattice. Flight ability is reduced in 2-day-old flies compared to wild-type controls, with no upward mobility but some horizontal flight. In 1-week-old adults, flight capability is lost. Thus, altered myosin function permits myofibril assembly, but results in a progressive disruption of the myofilament lattice and flight ability. We conclude that R759 in the myosin converter domain is essential for normal ATPase activity, in vitro motility and locomotion. Our results provide the first mutational evidence that intramolecular signaling between the relay loop and converter domain is critical for myosin function both in vitro and in muscle.


J. Mol. Biol. 2008 379:443-456.

Alternative relay domains of Drosophila melanogaster myosin differentially affect ATPase activity, in vitro motility, myofibril structure and muscle function.

Kronert, W. A., C. M. Dambacher, A. F. Knowles, D. M. Swank and S. I. Bernstein.

The relay domain of myosin is hypothesized to function as a communication pathway between the nucleotide-binding site, actin-binding site and the converter domain. In Drosophila melanogaster, a single myosin heavy chain gene encodes three alternative relay domains. Exon 9a encodes the indirect flight muscle isoform (IFI) relay domain, whereas exon 9b encodes one of the embryonic body wall isoform (EMB) relay domains. To gain a better understanding of the function of the relay domain and the differences imparted by the IFI and the EMB versions, we constructed two transgenic Drosophila lines expressing chimeric myosin heavy chains in indirect flight muscles lacking endogenous myosin. One expresses the IFI relay domain in the EMB backbone (EMB-9a), while the second expresses the EMB relay domain in the IFI backbone (IFI-9b). Our studies reveal that the EMB relay domain is functionally equivalent to the IFI relay domain when it is substituted into IFI. Essentially no differences in ATPase activity, actin-sliding velocity, flight ability at room temperature or muscle structure are observed in IFI-9b compared to native IFI. However, when the EMB relay domain is replaced with the IFI relay domain, we find a 50% reduction in actin-activated ATPase activity, a significant increase in actin affinity, abolition of actin sliding, defects in myofibril assembly and rapid degeneration of muscle structure compared to EMB. We hypothesize that altered relay domain conformational changes in EMB-9a impair intramolecular communication with the EMB-specific converter domain. This decreases transition rates involving strongly bound actomyosin states, leading to a reduced ATPase rate and loss of actin motility.


Mol. Biol. Cell 2008 19:553-562.

Myosin transducer mutations differentially affect motor function, myofibril structure and the performance of skeletal and cardiac muscles.

Cammarato, A., C. M. Dambacher, A. F. Knowles, W. A. Kronert, R. Bodmer, K. Ocorr and S. I. Bernstein.

Striated muscle myosin is a multidomain ATP-dependent molecular motor. Alterations to various domains affect the chemomechanical properties of the motor, and they are associated with skeletal and cardiac myopathies. The myosin transducer domain is located near the nucleotide-binding site. Here, we helped define the role of the transducer by using an integrative approach to study how Drosophila melanogaster transducer mutations D45 and Mhc(5) affect myosin function and skeletal and cardiac muscle structure and performance. We found D45 (A261T) myosin has depressed ATPase activity and in vitro actin motility, whereas Mhc(5) (G200D) myosin has these properties enhanced. Depressed D45 myosin activity protects against age-associated dysfunction in metabolically demanding skeletal muscles. In contrast, enhanced Mhc(5) myosin function allows normal skeletal myofibril assembly, but it induces degradation of the myofibrillar apparatus, probably as a result of contractile disinhibition. Analysis of beating hearts demonstrates depressed motor function evokes a dilatory response, similar to that seen with vertebrate dilated cardiomyopathy myosin mutations, and it disrupts contractile rhythmicity. Enhanced myosin performance generates a phenotype apparently analogous to that of human restrictive cardiomyopathy, possibly indicating myosin-based origins for the disease. The D45 and Mhc(5) mutations illustrate the transducer's role in influencing the chemomechanical properties of myosin and produce unique pathologies in distinct muscles. Our data suggest Drosophila is a valuable system for identifying and modeling mutations analogous to those associated with specific human muscle disorders.


Biophys. J. 2008 95:5228-5237.

Alternative versions of the myosin relay domain differentially respond to load to influence Drosophila muscle kinetics.

Yang, C., S. Ramanath, W. A. Kronert, S. I. Bernstein, D. W. Maughan, D. M. Swank.

We measured the influence of alternative versions of the Drosophila melanogaster myosin heavy chain relay domain on muscle mechanical properties. We exchanged relay domain regions (encoded by alternative versions of exon 9) between an embryonic (EMB) isoform and the indirect flight muscle isoform (IFI) of myosin. Previously, we observed no effect of exchanging the EMB relay domain region into the flight muscle isoform (IFI-9b) on in vitro actin motility velocity or solution ATPase measurements compared to IFI. However, in indirect flight muscle fibers, IFI-9b exhibited decreased maximum power generation (P(max)) and optimal frequency of power generation (f(max)) to 70% and 83% of IFI fiber values. The decrease in muscle performance reduced the flight ability and wing-beat frequency of IFI-9b Drosophila compared to IFI Drosophila. Previously, we found that exchanging the flight muscle specific relay domain into the EMB isoform (EMB-9a) prevented actin movement in the in vitro motility assay compared to EMB, which does support actin movement. However, in indirect flight muscle fibers EMB-9a was a highly effective motor, increasing P(max) and f(max) 2.5-fold and 1.4-fold, respectively, compared to fibers expressing EMB. We propose that the oscillatory load EMB-9a experiences in the muscle fiber reduces a high activation energy barrier between two strongly bound states of the cross-bridge cycle, thereby promoting cross-bridge cycling. The IFI relay domain's enhanced sensitivity to load increases cross-bridge kinetics, whereas the EMB version is less load-sensitive.


J. Mol. Biol. 2007 367: 1312-1329.

Alternative S2 hinge regions of the myosin rod differentially affect muscle function, myofibril dimensions and myosin tail length.

Suggs, J. A., A. Cammarato, W. A. Kronert, M. Nikkhoy, C. M. Dambacher, A. Megighian and S. I. Bernstein.

Muscle myosin heavy chain (MHC) rod domains intertwine to form alpha-helical coiled-coil dimers; these subsequently multimerize into thick filaments via electrostatic interactions. The subfragment 2/light meromyosin "hinge" region of the MHC rod, located in the C-terminal third of heavy meromyosin, may form a less stable coiled-coil than flanking regions. Partial "melting" of this region has been proposed to result in a helix to random-coil transition. A portion of the Drosophila melanogaster MHC hinge is encoded by mutually exclusive alternative exons 15a and 15b, the use of which correlates with fast (hinge A) or slow (hinge B) muscle physiological properties. To test the functional significance of alternative hinge regions, we constructed transgenic fly lines in which fast muscle isovariant hinge A was switched for slow muscle hinge B in the MHC isoforms of indirect flight and jump muscles. Substitution of the slow muscle hinge B impaired flight ability, increased sarcomere lengths by approximately 13% and resulted in minor disruption to indirect flight muscle sarcomeric structure compared with a transgenic control. With age, residual flight ability decreased rapidly and myofibrils developed peripheral defects. Computational analysis indicates that hinge B has a greater coiled-coil propensity and thus reduced flexibility compared to hinge A. Intriguingly, the MHC rod with hinge B was approximately 5 nm longer than myosin with hinge A, consistent with the more rigid coiled-coil conformation predicted for hinge B. Our study demonstrates that hinge B cannot functionally substitute for hinge A in fast muscle types, likely as a result of differences in the molecular structure of the rod, subtle changes in myofibril structure and decreased ability to maintain sarcomere structure in indirect flight muscle myofibrils. Thus, alternative hinges are important in dictating the distinct functional properties of myosin isoforms and the muscles in which they are expressed.


Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2005 102: 10522-10527.

Paramyosin phosphorylation site disruption affects indirect flight muscle stiffness and power generation in Drosophila melanogaster.

Liu, H., M. S. Miller, D. M. Swank, W. A. Kronert, D. W. Maughan, and S. I. Bernstein.

The phosphoprotein paramyosin is a major structural component of invertebrate muscle thick filaments. To investigate the importance of paramyosin phosphorylation, we produced transgenic Drosophila melanogaster in which one, three, or four phosphorylatable serine residues in the N-terminal nonhelical domain were replaced by alanines. Depending on the residues mutated, transgenic lines were either unaffected or severely flight impaired. Flight-impaired strains had decreases in the most acidic paramyosin isoforms, with a corresponding increase in more basic isoforms. Surprisingly, ultrastructure of indirect flight muscle myofibrils was normal, indicating N-terminal phosphorylation is not important for myofibril assembly. However, mechanical studies of active indirect flight muscle fibers revealed that phosphorylation site mutations reduced elastic and viscous moduli by 21-59% and maximum power output by up to 42%. Significant reductions also occurred under relaxed and rigor conditions, indicating that the phosphorylation-dependent changes are independent of strong crossbridge attachment and likely arise from alterations in thick filament backbone properties. Further, normal crossbridge kinetics were observed, demonstrating that myosin motor function is unaffected in the mutants. We conclude that N-terminal phosphorylation of Drosophila paramyosin is essential for optimal force and oscillatory power transduction within the muscle fiber and is key to the high passive stiffness of asynchronous insect flight muscles. Phosphorylation may reinforce interactions between myosin rod domains, enhance thick filament connections to the central M-line of the sarcomere and/or stabilize thick filament interactions with proteins that contribute to fiber stiffness.


Biophys. J. 2004 87: 1805-1814.

Alternative N-terminal regions of Drosophila myosin heavy chain tune cross-bridge kinetics for optimal muscle power output.

Swank, D.M., W.A. Kronert, S.I. Bernstein and D.W. Maughan.

We assessed the influence of alternative versions of a region near the N-terminus of Drosophila myosin heavy chain on muscle mechanical properties. Previously, we exchanged N-terminal regions (encoded by alternative exon 3s) between an embryonic (EMB) isoform and the indirect flight muscle isoform (IFI) of myosin, and demonstrated that it influences solution ATPase rates and in vitro actin sliding velocity. Because each myosin is expressed in Drosophila indirect flight muscle, in the absence of other myosin isoforms, this allows for muscle mechanical and whole organism locomotion assays. We found that exchanging the flight muscle specific exon 3 region into the embryonic isoform (EMB-3b) increased maximum power generation (P(max)) and optimal frequency of power generation (f(max)) threefold and twofold compared to fibers expressing EMB, whereas exchanging the embryonic exon 3 region into the flight muscle isoform (IFI-3a) decreased P(max) and f(max) to approximately 80% of IFI fiber values. Drosophila expressing IFI-3a exhibited a reduced wing beat frequency compared to flies expressing IFI, which optimized power generation from their kinetically slowed flight muscle. However, the slower wing beat frequency resulted in a substantial loss of aerodynamic power as manifest in decreased flight performance of IFI-3a compared to IFI. Thus the N-terminal region is important in tuning myosin kinetics to match muscle speed for optimal locomotory performance.


J Biol Chem 2003 May 9;278(19):17475-82

Variable N-terminal Regions of Muscle Myosin Heavy Chain Modulate ATPase Rate and Actin Sliding Velocity.

Swank DM, Knowles AF, Kronert WA, Suggs JA, Morrill GE, Nikkhoy M, Manipon GG, Bernstein SI.

We integratively assessed the function of alternative versions of a region near the N terminus of Drosophila muscle myosin heavy chain (encoded by exon 3a or 3b). We exchanged the alternative exon 3 regions between an embryonic isoform and the indirect flight muscle isoform. Each chimeric myosin was expressed in Drosophila indirect flight muscle, in the absence of other myosin isoforms, allowing for purified protein analysis and whole organism locomotory studies. The flight muscle isoform generates higher in vitro actin sliding velocity and solution ATPase rates than the embryonic isoform. Exchanging the embryonic exon 3 region into the flight muscle isoform decreased ATPase rates to embryonic levels but did not affect actin sliding velocity or flight muscle ultrastructure. Interestingly, this swap only slightly impaired flight ability. Exchanging the flight muscle-specific exon 3 region into the embryonic isoform increased actin sliding velocity 3-fold and improved indirect flight muscle ultrastructure integrity but failed to rescue the flightless phenotype of flies expressing embryonic myosin. These results suggest that the two structural versions of the exon 3 domain independently influence the kinetics of at least two steps of the actomyosin cross-bridge cycle.


Microsc. Res. Tech. (2000) 50: 430-442.

Determining structure/function relationships for sarcomeric myosin heavy chain by genetic and transgenic manipulation of Drosophila.

Swank, D.M., L. Wells, W.A. Kronert, G.E. Morrill and S.I. Bernstein.

Drosophila melanogaster is an excellent system for examining the structure/function relationships of myosin. It yields insights into the roles of myosin in assembly and stability of myofibrils, in defining the mechanical properties of muscle fibers, and in dictating locomotory abilities. Drosophila has a single gene encoding muscle myosin heavy chain (MHC), with alternative RNA splicing resulting in stage- and tissue-specific isoform production. Localization of the alternative domains of Drosophila MHC on a three-dimensional molecular model suggests how they may determine functional differences between isoforms. We are testing these predictions directly by using biophysical and biochemical techniques to characterize myosin isolated from transgenic organisms. Null and missense mutations help define specific amino acid residues important in actin binding and ATP hydrolysis and the function of MHC in thick filament and myofibril assembly. Insights into the interaction of thick and thin filaments result from studying mutations in MHC that suppress ultrastructural defects induced by a troponin I mutation. Analysis of transgenic organisms expressing engineered versions of MHC shows that the native isoform of myosin is not critical for myofibril assembly but is essential for muscle function and maintenance of muscle integrity. We show that the C-terminus of MHC plays a pivotal role in the maintenance of muscle integrity. Transgenic studies using headless myosin reveal that the head is important for some, but not all, aspects of myofibril assembly. The integrative approach described here provides a multi-level understanding of the function of the myosin molecular motor.


J Cell Biol 1999 Mar 8;144(5):989-1000.

Specific myosin heavy chain mutations suppress troponin I defects in Drosophila muscles.

Kronert, W.A., A. Acebes, A. Ferrus and S.I. Bernstein.

We show that specific mutations in the head of the thick filament molecule myosin heavy chain prevent a degenerative muscle syndrome resulting from the hdp2 mutation in the thin filament protein troponin I. One mutation deletes eight residues from the actin binding loop of myosin, while a second affects a residue at the base of this loop. Two other mutations affect amino acids near the site of nucleotide entry and exit in the motor domain. We document the degree of phenotypic rescue each suppressor permits and show that other point mutations in myosin, as well as null mutations, fail to suppress the hdp2 phenotype. We discuss mechanisms by which the hdp2 phenotypes are suppressed and conclude that the specific residues we identified in myosin are important in regulating thick and thin filament interactions. This in vivo approach to dissecting the contractile cycle defines novel molecular processes that may be difficult to uncover by biochemical and structural analyses. Our study illustrates how expression of genetic defects are dependent upon "genetic background", and therefore could have implications for understanding gene interactions in human disease.


J Mol Biol 1995 May 26;249(1):111-125

Defects in the Drosophila myosin rod permit sarcomere assembly but cause flight muscle degeneration.

Kronert WA, O'Donnell PT, Fieck A, Lawn A, Vigoreaux JO, Sparrow JC, Bernstein SI

We have determined the molecular and ultrastructural defects associated with three homozygous-viable myosin heavy chain mutations of Drosophila melanogaster. These mutations cause a dominant flightless phenotype but allow relatively normal assembly of indirect flight muscle myofibrils. As adults age, the contents of the indirect flight muscle myofibers are pulled to one end of the thorax. This apparently results from myofibril "hyper-contraction", and leads to sarcomere rupture and random myofilament orientation. All three mutations cause single amino acid changes in the light meromyosin region of the myosin rod. Two change the same glutamic acid to a lysine residue and the third affects an amino acid five residues away, substituting histidine for arginine. Both affected residues are conserved in muscle myosins, cytoplasmic myosins and paramyosins. The mutations are associated with age-dependent, site-specific degradation of myosin heavy chain and failure to accumulate phosphorylated forms of flightin, an indirect flight muscle-specific protein previously localized to the thick filament. Given the repeating nature of the hydrophobic and charged amino acid residues of the myosin rod and the near-normal assembly of myofibrils in the indirect flight muscle of these mutants, it is remarkable that single amino acid changes in the rod cause such severe defects. It is also interesting that these severe defects are not apparent in other muscles. These phenomena likely arise from the highly organized nature and rigorous performance requirements of indirect flight muscle, and perhaps from the interaction of myosin with flightin, a protein specific to this muscle type.


J Cell Biol 1994 Aug;126(3):689-699

Transformation of Drosophila melanogaster with the wild-type myosin heavy-chain gene: rescue of mutant phenotypes and analysis of defects caused by overexpression.

Cripps RM, Becker KD, Mardahl M, Kronert WA, Hodges D, Bernstein SI

We have transformed Drosophila melanogaster with a genomic construct containing the entire wild-type myosin heavy-chain gene, Mhc, together with approximately 9 kb of flanking DNA on each side. Three independent lines stably express myosin heavy-chain protein (MHC) at approximately wild-type levels. The MHC produced is functional since it rescues the mutant phenotypes of a number of different Mhc alleles: the amorphic allele Mhc1, the indirect flight muscle and jump muscle-specific amorphic allele Mhc10, and the hypomorphic allele Mhc2. We show that the Mhc2 mutation is due to the insertion of a transposable element in an intron of Mhc. Since a reduction in MHC in the indirect flight muscles alters the myosin/actin protein ratio and results in myofibrillar defects, we determined the effects of an increase in the effective copy number of Mhc. The presence of four copies of Mhc results in overabundance of the protein and a flightless phenotype. Electron microscopy reveals concomitant defects in the indirect flight muscles, with excess thick filaments at the periphery of the myofibrils. Further increases in copy number are lethal. These results demonstrate the usefulness and potential of the transgenic system to study myosin function in Drosophila. They also show that overexpression of wild-type protein in muscle may disrupt the function of not only the indirect flight but also other muscles of the organism.


J Mol Biol 1994 Feb 25;236(3):697-702

A charge change in an evolutionarily-conserved region of the myosin globular head prevents myosin and thick filament accumulation in Drosophila.

Kronert WA, O'Donnell PT, Bernstein SI

We have determined the molecular lesion in Mhc9, a homozygous-viable mutant of the Drosophila muscle myosin heavy chain gene. This mutation is in an adult-specific alternative exon (exon 9a) which encodes a portion of the myosin head that is highly conserved among both cytoplasmic and muscle myosins of all organisms. The mutation results in a charge change in the evolutionarily invariant amino acid residue 482. The phenotype of the homozygous mutant is identical to that of an organism having a stop codon within alternative exon 9a, i.e. lack of thick filaments in the indirect flight muscles and a greatly reduced number of thick filaments in the small cells of the jump muscles. This phenotype correlates with the known expression pattern of exon 9a. Genetic, biochemical and ultrastructural analyses show that the failure to accumulate thick filaments in the mutant is not a result of aberrant interactions with thin filaments and that the mutant myosin heavy chain does not poison assembly of wild-type thick filaments. Our results, in conjunction with recent structural and mutant studies by others, indicate that residue 482 is important for generating ATPase activity and for myosin stability in muscle.


EMBO J 1991 Sep;10(9):2479-2488

Muscle-specific accumulation of Drosophila myosin heavy chains: a splicing mutation in an alternative exon results in an isoform substitution.

Kronert WA, Edwards KA, Roche ES, Wells L, Bernstein SI

We show that the molecular lesions in two homozygousviable mutants of the Drosophila muscle myosin heavy chain gene affect an alternative exon (exon 9a) which encodes a portion of the myosin head that is highly conserved among both cytoplasmic and muscle myosins of all organisms. In situ hybridization and Northern blotting analysis in wild-type organisms indicates that exon 9a is used in indirect flight muscles whereas both exons 9a and 9b are utilized in jump muscles. Alternative exons 9b and 9c are used in other larval and adult muscles. One of the mutations in exon 9a is a nonsense allele that greatly reduces myosin RNA stability. It prevents thick filament accumulation in indirect flight muscles and severely reduces the number of thick filaments in a subset of cells of the jump muscles. The second mutation affects the 5' splice site of exon 9a. This results in production of an aberrantly spliced transcript in indirect flight muscles, which prevents thick filament accumulation. Jump muscles of this mutant substitute exon 9b for exon 9a and consequently have normal levels of thick filaments in this muscle type. This isoform substitution does not obviously affect the ultrastructure or function of the jump muscle. Analysis of this mutant illustrates that indirect flight muscles and jump muscles utilize different mechanisms for alternative RNA splicing.


Genes Dev 1990 Jun;4(6):885-895

Alternative myosin hinge regions are utilized in a tissue-specific fashion that correlates with muscle contraction speed.

Collier VL, Kronert WA, O'Donnell PT, Edwards KA, Bernstein SI

By comparing the structure of wild-type and mutant muscle myosin heavy chain (MHC) genes of Drosophila melanogaster, we have identified the defect in the homozygous-viable, flightless mutant Mhc10. The mutation is within the 3' splice acceptor of an alternative exon (exon 15a) that encodes the central region of the MHC hinge. The splice acceptor defect prevents the accumulation of mRNAs containing exon 15a, whereas transcripts with a divergent copy of this exon (exon 15b) are unaffected by the mutation. In situ hybridization and Northern blot analysis of wild-type organisms reveals that exon 15b is used in larval MHCs, whereas exons 15a and/or 15b are used in adult tissues. Because Mhc10 mutants fail to accumulate transcripts encoding MHC protein with hinge region a, analysis of their muscle-specific reduction in thick filament number serves as a sensitive assay system for determining the pattern of accumulation of MHCs with alternative hinge regions. Electron microscopic comparisons of various muscles from wild-type and Mhc10 adults reveals that those that contract rapidly or develop high levels of tension utilize only hinge region a, those that contract at moderate rates accumulate MHCs of both types, and those that are slowly contracting have MHCs with hinge region b. The presence of alternative hinge-coding exons and their highly tissue-specific usage suggests that this portion of the MHC molecule is important to the isoform-specific properties of MHC that lead to the different physiological and ultrastructural characteristics of various Drosophila muscle types. The absence of other alternative exons in the rod-coding region, aside from those shown previously to encode alternative carboxyl termini, demonstrates that the bulk of the myosin rod is not involved in the generation of isoform-specific properties of the MHC molecule.


J Biol Chem 1988 Jul 5;263(19):9079-9082

Altered turnover of allelic variants of hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase is associated with N-terminal amino acid sequence variation.

Johnson GG, Kronert WA, Bernstein SI, Chapman VM, Smith KD

The results of our previous studies suggested that differences in the primary structures of the hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) A and B proteins (EC of mice are associated with altered turnover of these proteins in reticulocytes. On the basis of nucleotide sequence comparisons of their corresponding cDNAs, we show here that the HPRT A and B proteins differ at two positions; there is an alanine/proline substitution at amino acid position 2 and a valine/alanine substitution at amino acid position 29 (HPRT A/B proteins, respectively; total protein length, 218 amino acids). On the basis of results obtained from sequencing of the N termini of the purified HPRT A and B proteins, we also show that these amino acid substitutions are associated with differences in processing of the proteins; HPRT B, which is encoded as N-terminal Met-Pro, has a free N-terminal proline residue; HPRT A, which is encoded as N-terminal Met-Ala, lacks a free N-terminal alpha-amino group and is presumed to be acetylated following removal of the N-terminal methionine (i.e. AcO-Ala). These observations are discussed in reference to the idea that the N terminus of a protein plays a role in determining the rate at which the protein is degraded in erythroid cells.


J Biol Chem 1987 Aug 5;262(22):10741-10747

Analysis of the 5' end of the Drosophila muscle myosin heavy chain gene. Alternatively spliced transcripts initiate at a single site and intron locations are conserved compared to myosin genes of other organisms.

Wassenberg DR 2d, Kronert WA, O'Donnell PT, Bernstein SI

We have localized the transcription start site of the Drosophila melanogaster muscle myosin heavy chain (MHC) gene and find that all forms of the alternatively spliced MHC mRNA initiate at the same location. Therefore the alternative inclusion/exclusion of the 3' penultimate exon in transcripts from this gene (Bernstein, S.I., Hansen, C.J., Becker, K.D., Wassenberg, D.R., II, Roche, E.S., Donady, J.J., and Emerson, C. P., Jr. (1986) Mol. Cell. Biol. 6, 2511-2519; Rozek, C.E., and Davidson, N. (1986) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 83, 2128-2134) does not result from the use of different 5' transcription initiation sites. This gene is the first invertebrate MHC gene shown to have TATA and CAAT box consensus sequences and a noncoding 5' exon, properties that are shared with some vertebrate and invertebrate contractile protein genes. The intron that splits the 5' noncoding region of the Drosophila MHC gene contains no major conserved elements relative to other Drosophila contractile protein genes. The introns within the coding region near the 5' end of the Drosophila MHC gene are located at the same sites as nematode and vertebrate MHC gene introns, indicating that these MHC genes are derived from a common ancestral sequence. The putative ATP binding domain encoded in the fourth exon of the Drosophila MHC gene is highly conserved relative to vertebrate, invertebrate, and non-muscle MHC genes suggesting that each of these myosins bind ATP by the same mechanism. Two divergent copies of the third exon are present within the 5' region of the Drosophila MHC gene, suggesting that alternative splicing produces MHC isoforms with different globular head regions.


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