Myosin Crossbridge Configurations in Equilibrium States of Vertebrate Skeletal Muscle

Heads Swing Axially or Turn Upside-Down between Resting and Rigor
  • Jeff Harford
  • Marie Cantino
  • Michael Chew
  • Richard Denny
  • Liam Hudson
  • Pradeep Luther
  • Robert Mendelson
  • Ed Morris
  • John Squire
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 453)


The positions and orientations of the myosin heads in relaxed, active, rigor and S1-labelled fish muscle are being determined by analysis both of electron micrographs and of low-angle X-ray diffraction patterns. The X-ray analysis of resting muscle makes use of the head shape defined from the study of S1 crystals, with variable head configurational parameters being used on each of the three different 3-fold symmetric 14.3 nm-spaced ‘crowns’ of myosin heads within the 42.9 nm axial repeat of the myosin filaments. Diffraction patterns were stripped using CCP13 fibre diffraction software. Searches and optimisation were carried out using simulated annealing and local refinement procedures to give a ‘best fit’ relaxed structure with a crystallographic R-factor of about 4%. It had heads oriented all the same way up (i.e. with similar rotations around their own long axes) on the myosin filament, but with a small range of axial tilts. Head configuration in rigor fish muscle is being determined by X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy of normal rigor muscle and of skinned muscle soaked with extrinsic myosin S1. Computed 3-D reconstructions of acto-S1 using X-ray amplitudes and phases from electron microscopy are informative and help to analyse the X-ray diffraction data that extend axially to about 1 nm resolution. An ambiguity is the axial direction of the observed resting myosin head array relative to the known polarity of the actin filaments. One polarity would give little axial displacement (2–3 nm) between opposite ends of the resting and rigor heads, and in this case the heads would need to rotate around their own long axes by about 115° to make a rigor attachment. The other (preferred) filament polarity would provide considerable axial swinging (14–15 nm) between the two states. We are attempting to define the absolute polarity of the resting muscle myosin head array using electron microscopy and image processing either of cryo-sections or of replicas from shadowed, freeze-fractured, rapidly frozen fish muscle fibres.


Actin Filament Fish Muscle Myosin Head Actin Monomer Filament Polarity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeff Harford
    • 1
  • Marie Cantino
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michael Chew
    • 1
  • Richard Denny
    • 1
  • Liam Hudson
    • 1
  • Pradeep Luther
    • 1
  • Robert Mendelson
    • 4
  • Ed Morris
    • 2
  • John Squire
    • 1
  1. 1.Biophysics Section Blackett LaboratoryImperial CollegeLondonUK
  2. 2.Biochemistry DepartmentImperial CollegeLondonUK
  3. 3.Departments of Physiology and NeurobiologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  4. 4.Cardiovascular Research InstituteUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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