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Biophys J. 1997 Nov;73(5):2292-303.

X-ray diffraction studies of cross-bridges weakly bound to actin in relaxed skinned fibers of rabbit psoas muscle.

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National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


X-ray diffraction patterns were obtained from skinned rabbit psoas muscle under relaxing and rigor conditions over a wide range of ionic strengths (50-170 mM) and temperatures (1 degree C-30 degrees C). For the first time, an intensification of the first actin-based layer line is observed in the relaxed muscle. The intensification, which increases with decreasing ionic strength at various temperatures, including 30 degrees C, parallels the formation of weakly attached cross-bridges in the relaxed muscle. However, the overall intensities of the actin-based layer lines are low. Furthermore, the level of diffuse scattering, presumably a measure of disorder among the cross-bridges, is little affected by changing ionic strength at a given temperature. The results suggest that the intensification of the first actin layer line is most likely due to the cross-bridges weakly bound to actin, and that the orientations of the weakly attached cross-bridges are hardly distinguishable from the detached cross-bridges. This suggests that the orientations of the weakly attached cross-bridges are not precisely defined with respect to the actin helix, i.e., nonstereospecific. Intensities of the myosin-based layer lines are only marginally affected by changing ionic strength, but markedly by temperature. The results could be explained if in a relaxed muscle the cross-bridges are distributed between a helically ordered and a disordered population with respect to myosin filament structure. Within the disordered population, some are weakly attached to actin and others are detached. The fraction of cross-bridges in the helically ordered assembly is primarily a function of temperature, while the distribution between the weakly attached and the detached within the disordered population is mainly affected by ionic strength. Some other notable features in the diffraction patterns include a approximately 1% decrease in the pitch of the myosin helix as the temperature is raised from 4 degrees C to 20 degrees C.

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