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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Feb 11;111(6):2170-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1316001111. Epub 2014 Jan 29.

Myosin-binding protein C displaces tropomyosin to activate cardiac thin filaments and governs their speed by an independent mechanism.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655.


Myosin-binding protein C (MyBP-C) is an accessory protein of striated muscle thick filaments and a modulator of cardiac muscle contraction. Defects in the cardiac isoform, cMyBP-C, cause heart disease. cMyBP-C includes 11 Ig- and fibronectin-like domains and a cMyBP-C-specific motif. In vitro studies show that in addition to binding to the thick filament via its C-terminal region, cMyBP-C can also interact with actin via its N-terminal domains, modulating thin filament motility. Structural observations of F-actin decorated with N-terminal fragments of cMyBP-C suggest that cMyBP-C binds to actin close to the low Ca(2+) binding site of tropomyosin. This suggests that cMyBP-C might modulate thin filament activity by interfering with tropomyosin regulatory movements on actin. To determine directly whether cMyBP-C binding affects tropomyosin position, we have used electron microscopy and in vitro motility assays to study the structural and functional effects of N-terminal fragments binding to thin filaments. 3D reconstructions suggest that under low Ca(2+) conditions, cMyBP-C displaces tropomyosin toward its high Ca(2+) position, and that this movement corresponds to thin filament activation in the motility assay. At high Ca(2+), cMyBP-C had little effect on tropomyosin position and caused slowing of thin filament sliding. Unexpectedly, a shorter N-terminal fragment did not displace tropomyosin or activate the thin filament at low Ca(2+) but slowed thin filament sliding as much as the larger fragments. These results suggest that cMyBP-C may both modulate thin filament activity, by physically displacing tropomyosin from its low Ca(2+) position on actin, and govern contractile speed by an independent molecular mechanism.


muscle activation; muscle regulation

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