For skeletal muscle to produce movement, individual myofibers must form stable contacts with tendon cells and then assemble sarcomeres. The myofiber precursor is the nascent myotube, and during myogenesis the myotube completes guided elongation to reach its target tendons. Unlike the well-studied events of myogenesis, such as myoblast specification and myoblast fusion, the molecules that regulate myotube elongation are largely unknown. In Drosophila, hoi polloi (hoip) encodes a highly conserved RNAbinding protein and hoip mutant embryos are largely paralytic due to defects in myotube elongation and sarcomeric protein expression. We used the hoip mutant background as a platform to identify novel regulators of myogenesis, and uncovered surprising developmental functions for the sarcomeric protein Tropomyosin 2 (Tm2). We have identified Hoip-responsive sequences in the coding region of the Tm2 mRNA that are essential for Tm2 protein expression in developing myotubes. Tm2 overexpression rescued the hoip myogenic phenotype by promoting F-actin assembly at the myotube leading edge, by restoring the expression of additional sarcomeric RNAs, and by promoting myoblast fusion. Embryos that lack Tm2 also showed reduced sarcomeric protein expression, and embryos that expressed a gain-of-function Tm2 allele showed both fusion and elongation defects. Tropomyosin therefore dictates fundamental steps of myogenesis prior to regulating contraction in the sarcomere.
- Myotube elongation