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J Biol Chem. 2002 Sep 27;277(39):36799-807. Epub 2002 Jul 10.

Folding of the striated muscle myosin motor domain.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


We have investigated the folding of the myosin motor domain using a chimera of an embryonic striated muscle myosin II motor domain fused on its COOH terminus to a thermal stable, fast folding variant of green fluorescent protein (GFP). In in vitro expression assays, the GFP domain of the chimeric protein, S1(795)GFP, folds rapidly enabling us to monitor the folding of the motor domain using fluorescence. The myosin motor domain folds very slowly and transits through multiple intermediates that are detectable by gel filtration chromatography. The distribution of the nascent protein among these intermediates is strongly dependent upon temperature. At 25 degrees C and above the predominant product is an aggregate of S1(795)GFP or a complex with other lysate proteins. At 0 degrees C, the motor domain folds slowly via an energy independent pathway. The unusual temperature dependence and slow rate suggests that folding of the myosin motor is highly susceptible to off-pathway interactions and aggregation. Expression of the S1(795)GFP in the C2C12 muscle cell line yields a folded and functionally active protein that exhibits Mg(2+)ATP-sensitive actin-binding and myosin motor activity. In contrast, expression of S1(795)GFP in kidney epithelial cell lines (human 293 and COS 7 cells) results in an inactive and aggregated protein. The results of the in vitro folding assay suggest that the myosin motor domain does not fold spontaneously under physiological conditions and probably requires cytosolic chaperones. The expression studies support this conclusion and demonstrate that these factors are optimized in muscle cells.

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