UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology



Document Type



Amino Acid Sequence; Animals; Microscopy, Electron; Molecular Sequence Data; Muscle, Smooth; Myosins; Phylogeny; Schistosoma mansoni; Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


Muscle tissues are classically divided into two major types, depending on the presence or absence of striations. In striated muscles, the actin filaments are anchored at Z-lines and the myosin and actin filaments are in register, whereas in smooth muscles, the actin filaments are attached to dense bodies and the myosin and actin filaments are out of register. The structure of the filaments in smooth muscles is also different from that in striated muscles. Here we have studied the structure of myosin filaments from the smooth muscles of the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni. We find, surprisingly, that they are indistinguishable from those in an arthropod striated muscle. This structural similarity is supported by sequence comparison between the schistosome myosin II heavy chain and known striated muscle myosins. In contrast, the actin filaments of schistosomes are similar to those of smooth muscles, lacking troponin-dependent regulation. We conclude that schistosome muscles are hybrids, containing striated muscle-like myosin filaments and smooth muscle-like actin filaments in a smooth muscle architecture. This surprising finding has broad significance for understanding how muscles are built and how they evolved, and challenges the paradigm that smooth and striated muscles always have distinctly different components.

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Citation: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Oct 20;112(42):E5660-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1513439112. Epub 2015 Oct 6. Link to article on publisher's site. Publisher PDF posted as allowed by the publisher's author rights policy at

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed


Schistosoma mansoni, muscle contraction, muscle structure, schistosome, thick filament

Journal Title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

PubMed ID




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