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Biophys J. 2000 May;78(5):2511-5.

In vivo x-ray diffraction of indirect flight muscle from Drosophila melanogaster.

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Biophysics Collaborative Access Team, Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation, Department of Biological, Chemical, and Physical Sciences, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois 60616, USA.


Small-angle x-ray diffraction from isolated muscle preparations is commonly used to obtain time-resolved structural information during contraction. We extended this technique to the thoracic flight muscles of living fruit flies, at rest and during tethered flight. Precise measurements at 1-ms time resolution indicate that the myofilament lattice spacing does not change significantly during oscillatory contraction. This result is consistent with the notion that a net radial force maintains the thick filaments at an equilibrium interfilament spacing of approximately 56 nm throughout the contractile cycle. Transgenic flies with amino-acid substitutions in the conserved phosphorylation site of the myosin regulatory light chain (RLC) exhibit structural abnormalities that can explain their flight impairment. The I(20)/I(10) equatorial intensity ratio of the mutant fly is 35% less than that of wild type, supporting the hypothesis that myosin heads that lack phosphorylated RLC remain close to the thick filament backbone. This new experimental system facilitates investigation of the relation between molecular structure and muscle function in living organisms.

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