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J Mol Biol. 2001 Mar 30;307(3):739-44.

Troponin organization on relaxed and activated thin filaments revealed by electron microscopy and three-dimensional reconstruction.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Boston University School of Medicine, 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


The steric model of muscle regulation holds that at low Ca(2+) concentration, tropomyosin strands, running along thin filaments, are constrained by troponin in an inhibitory position that blocks myosin-binding sites on actin. Ca(2+) activation, releasing this constraint, allows tropomyosin movement, initiating actin-myosin interaction and contraction. Although the different positions of tropomyosin on the thin filament are well documented, corresponding information on troponin has been lacking and it has therefore not been possible to test the model structurally. Here, we show that troponin can be detected on thin filaments and demonstrate how its changing association with actin can control tropomyosin position in response to Ca(2+). To accomplish this, thin filaments were reconstituted with an engineered short tropomyosin, creating a favorable troponin stoichiometry and symmetry for three-dimensional analysis. We demonstrate that in the absence of Ca(2+), troponin bound to both tropomyosin and actin can act as a latch to constrain tropomyosin in a position on actin that inhibits actomyosin ATPase. In addition, we find that on Ca(2+) activation the actin-troponin connection is broken, allowing tropomyosin to assume a second position, initiating actomyosin ATPase and thus permitting contraction to proceed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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