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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Mar;86(5):1510-4.

Simultaneous recordings of force and sliding movement between a myosin-coated glass microneedle and actin cables in vitro.

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Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Teikyo University, Japan.


To elucidate the molecular mechanism of muscle contraction resulting from the ATP-dependent actin-myosin interaction, we constructed an assay system with which both the force and the movement produced by the actin-myosin interaction in vitro can be simultaneously recorded and analyzed. The assay system consisted of the giant internodal cells of an alga, Nitellopsis obtusa, which contain well-organized arrays of actin filaments (actin cables) running along the cell long axis, and a glass microneedle (tip diameter, approximately 7 microns; elastic coefficient, approximately 40 pN/microns), which was coated with skeletal muscle myosin at the tip and extended from a micromanipulator at right angles with the actin cables. When the myosin-coated tip of the microneedle was brought into contact with the exposed surface of the actin cables, it exhibited ATP-dependent movement along the actin cables over a distance of 20-150 microns in 20-200 s (20-23 degrees C) and eventually stopped due to a balance between forces generated by the actin-myosin interaction (800-6000 pN) and by the bent microneedle. Since the load on the force-generating myosin molecules increased with the bending displacement of the microneedle (auxotonic condition), the relation between the load and the sliding velocity of the myosin heads past the actin cables was determined from the time course of the microneedle movement recorded with a video system. The shape of the force-velocity curve thus obtained was convex upwards, similar to that of the force-velocity curve of intact frog muscle fibers obtained under the auxotonic condition.

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