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Biophys J. 1997 Jun;72(6):2398-404.

Three-dimensional image reconstruction of reconstituted smooth muscle thin filaments: effects of caldesmon.

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Imperial College School of Medicine, National Heart and Lung Institute, London, United Kingdom.


Caldesmon inhibits actomyosin ATPase and filament sliding in vitro, and therefore may play a role in modulating smooth and non-muscle motile activities. A bacterially expressed caldesmon fragment, 606C, which consists of the C-terminal 150 amino acids of the intact molecule, possesses the same inhibitory properties as full-length caldesmon and was used in our structural studies to examine caldesmon function. Three-dimensional image reconstruction was carried out from electron micrographs of negatively stained, reconstituted thin filaments consisting of actin and smooth muscle tropomyosin both with and without added 606C. Helically arranged actin monomers and tropomyosin strands were observed in both cases. In the absence of 606C, tropomyosin adopted a position on the inner edge of the outer domain of actin monomers, with an apparent connection to sub-domain 1 of actin. In 606C-containing filaments that inhibited acto-HMM ATPase activity, tropomyosin was found in a different position, in association with the inner domain of actin, away from the majority of strong myosin binding sites. The effect of caldesmon on tropomyosin position therefore differs from that of troponin on skeletal muscle filaments, implying that caldesmon and troponin act by different structural mechanisms.

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