Mechanical Properties of Titin Isoforms
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Titin is a giant filamentous polypeptide of multi-domain construction spanning between the Z- and M-lines of the sarcomere. As a result of differential splicing, length variants of titin are expressed in different skeletal and cardiac muscles. Here we first briefly review some of our previous work that has revealed that titin develops force in sarcomeres either stretched beyond their slack length (passive force) or shortened to below the slack length (restoring force) and that titin’s force underlies a large fraction of the diastolic force of cardiac muscle. Next we present our mechanical and immunoelectron microscopical (IEM) studies of skeletal and cardiac muscles that express titin isoforms. The previously deduced molecular properties of titin were used to model titin’s extensible region in the sarcomere as serially linked WLCs: rigid segments (containing folded Ig/Fn domains) and more flexible segments (PEVK segment). The model was tested on skeletal muscle fibers that express titin isoforms with tandem Ig and PEVK length variants. The model adequately predicts titin’s behavior along a wide sarcomere length range in skeletal muscle, but at long sarcome lengths (SLs), predicted forces are much higher than those determined experimentally. IEM reveals that this may result from Ig domain unfolding. Experiments were also performed on cardiac myocytes from mouse and cow that express predominantly a small cardiac titin isoform (N2B titin) or a large isoform (N2BA titin), respectively. The passive tension-SL relation of myocytes was found to increase more steeply with SL in mouse than in cow. IEM revealed an additional source of extensibility within both of these cardiac titins: the unique N2B sequence (absent in skeletal muscle). Furthermore, the PEVK segment of the N2BA isoform extended to a maximal length of ~ 200 nm, as opposed to ~60 nm for the N2B isoform. We propose that, along the physiological SL range, the long PEVK segment found in N2BA titins results in a low PEVK fractional extension and that this underlies the lower passive tensions of N2BA-expressing cow myocytes.
KeywordsSarcomere Length Passive Force Passive Tension Slack Length Titin Isoforms
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