The function of the M-line protein obscurin in controlling the symmetry of the sarcomere in the flight muscle of Drosophila

Anja Katzemich, Nina Kreisköther, Alexander Alexandrovich, Christopher Elliott, Frieder Schöck, Kevin Leonard, John Sparrow, Belinda Bullard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obscurin (also known as Unc-89 in Drosophila) is a large modular protein in the M-line of Drosophila muscles. Drosophila obscurin is similar to the nematode protein UNC-89. Four isoforms are found in the muscles of adult flies: two in the indirect flight muscle (IFM) and two in other muscles. A fifth isoform is found in the larva. The larger IFM isoform has all the domains that were predicted from the gene sequence. Obscurin is in the M-line throughout development of the embryo, larva and pupa. Using P-element mutant flies and RNAi knockdown flies, we have investigated the effect of decreased obscurin expression on the structure of the sarcomere. Embryos, larvae and pupae developed normally. In the pupa, however, the IFM was affected. Although the Z-disc was normal, the H-zone was misaligned. Adults were unable to fly and the structure of the IFM was irregular: M-lines were missing and H-zones misplaced or absent. Isolated thick filaments were asymmetrical, with bare zones that were shifted away from the middle of the filaments. In the sarcomere, the length and polarity of thin filaments depends on the symmetry of adjacent thick filaments; shifted bare zones resulted in abnormally long or short thin filaments. We conclude that obscurin in the IFM is necessary for the development of a symmetrical sarcomere in Drosophila IFM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3367-3379
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number14
Early online date30 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2012


  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Male
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Sarcomeres

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