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.

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