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PLoS Biol. 2018 Apr 27;16(4):e2004718. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2004718. eCollection 2018 Apr.

Polarization-resolved microscopy reveals a muscle myosin motor-independent mechanism of molecular actin ordering during sarcomere maturation.

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Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IBDM, Marseille, France.
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Muscle Dynamics Group, Martinsried, Germany.
Institute of Neurobiology and Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (EXC 1003 - CiM), University of Münster, Münster, Germany.
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, Centrale Marseille, Institut Fresnel, Marseille, France.


Sarcomeres are stereotyped force-producing mini-machines of striated muscles. Each sarcomere contains a pseudocrystalline order of bipolar actin and myosin filaments, which are linked by titin filaments. During muscle development, these three filament types need to assemble into long periodic chains of sarcomeres called myofibrils. Initially, myofibrils contain immature sarcomeres, which gradually mature into their pseudocrystalline order. Despite the general importance, our understanding of myofibril assembly and sarcomere maturation in vivo is limited, in large part because determining the molecular order of protein components during muscle development remains challenging. Here, we applied polarization-resolved microscopy to determine the molecular order of actin during myofibrillogenesis in vivo. This method revealed that, concomitantly with mechanical tension buildup in the myotube, molecular actin order increases, preceding the formation of immature sarcomeres. Mechanistically, both muscle and nonmuscle myosin contribute to this actin order gain during early stages of myofibril assembly. Actin order continues to increase while myofibrils and sarcomeres mature. Muscle myosin motor activity is required for the regular and coordinated assembly of long myofibrils but not for the high actin order buildup during sarcomere maturation. This suggests that, in muscle, other actin-binding proteins are sufficient to locally bundle or cross-link actin into highly regular arrays.

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