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J Struct Biol. 2006 Aug;155(2):273-84. Epub 2006 May 7.

A comparison of muscle thin filament models obtained from electron microscopy reconstructions and low-angle X-ray fibre diagrams from non-overlap muscle.

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Arbeitsgruppe Biophysik, Max Planck Institut für medizinische Forschung, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The regulation of striated muscle contraction involves changes in the interactions of troponin and tropomyosin with actin thin filaments. In resting muscle, myosin-binding sites on actin are thought to be blocked by the coiled-coil protein tropomyosin. During muscle activation, Ca2+ binding to troponin alters the tropomyosin position on actin, resulting in cyclic actin-myosin interactions that accompany muscle contraction. Evidence for this steric regulation by troponin-tropomyosin comes from X-ray data [Haselgrove, J.C., 1972. X-ray evidence for a conformational change in the actin-containing filaments of verterbrate striated muscle. Cold Spring Habor Symp. Quant. Biol. 37, 341-352; Huxley, H.E., 1972. Structural changes in actin and myosin-containing filaments during contraction. Cold Spring Habor Symp. Quant. Biol. 37, 361-376; Parry, D.A., Squire, J.M., 1973. Structural role of tropomyosin in muscle regulation: analysis of the X-ray diffraction patterns from relaxed and contracting muscles. J. Mol. Biol. 75, 33-55] and electron microscope (EM) data [Spudich, J.A., Huxley, H.E., Finch, J., 1972. Regulation of skeletal muscle contraction. II. Structural studies of the interaction of the tropomyosin-troponin complex with actin. J. Mol. Biol. 72, 619-632; O'Brien, E.J., Gillis, J.M., Couch, J., 1975. Symmetry and molecular arrangement in paracrystals of reconstituted muscle thin filaments. J. Mol. Biol. 99, 461-475; Lehman, W., Craig, R., Vibert, P., 1994. Ca2+-induced tropomyosin movement in Limulus thin filaments revealed by three-dimensional reconstruction. Nature 368, 65-67] each with its own particular strengths and limitations. Here we bring together some of the latest information from EM analysis of single thin filaments from Pirani et al. [Pirani, A., Xu, C., Hatch, V., Craig, R., Tobacman, L.S., Lehman, W. (2005). Single particle analysis of relaxed and activated muscle thin filaments. J. Mol. Biol. 346, 761-772], with synchrotron X-ray data from non-overlapped muscle fibres to refine the models of the striated muscle thin filament. This was done by incorporating current atomic-resolution structures of actin, tropomyosin, troponin and myosin subfragment-1. Fitting these atomic coordinates to EM reconstructions, we present atomic models of the thin filament that are entirely consistent with a steric regulatory mechanism. Furthermore, fitting the atomic models against diffraction data from skinned muscle fibres, stretched to non-overlap to preclude crossbridge binding, produced very similar results, including a large Ca2+-induced shift in tropomyosin azimuthal location but little change in the actin structure or apparent alteration in troponin position.

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