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J Cell Biol. 1997 Nov 3;139(3):695-707.

Tomographic three-dimensional reconstruction of insect flight muscle partially relaxed by AMPPNP and ethylene glycol.

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Institute of Molecular Biophysics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4380, USA.


Rigor insect flight muscle (IFM) can be relaxed without ATP by increasing ethylene glycol concentration in the presence of adenosine 5'-[beta'gamma- imido]triphosphate (AMPPNP). Fibers poised at a critical glycol concentration retain rigor stiffness but support no sustained tension ("glycol-stiff state"). This suggests that many crossbridges are weakly attached to actin, possibly at the beginning of the power stroke. Unaveraged three-dimensional tomograms of "glycol-stiff" sarcomeres show crossbridges large enough to contain only a single myosin head, originating from dense collars every 14.5 nm. Crossbridges with an average 90 degrees axial angle contact actin midway between troponin subunits, which identifies the actin azimuth in each 38.7-nm period, in the same region as the actin target zone of the 45 degrees angled rigor lead bridges. These 90 degrees "target zone" bridges originate from the thick filament and approach actin at azimuthal angles similar to rigor lead bridges. Another class of glycol-PNP crossbridge binds outside the rigor actin target zone. These "nontarget zone" bridges display irregular forms and vary widely in axial and azimuthal attachment angles. Fitting the acto-myosin subfragment 1 atomic structure into the tomogram reveals that 90 degrees target zone bridges share with rigor a similar contact interface with actin, while nontarget crossbridges have variable contact interfaces. This suggests that target zone bridges interact specifically with actin, while nontarget zone bridges may not. Target zone bridges constitute only approximately 25% of the myosin heads, implying that both specific and nonspecific attachments contribute to the high stiffness. The 90 degrees target zone bridges may represent a preforce attachment that produces force by rotation of the motor domain over actin, possibly independent of the regulatory domain movements.

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