Millisecond time-resolved changes occurring in Ca2+-regulated myosin filaments upon relaxation

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Calcium; Cryoelectron Microscopy; Kinetics; Microfilaments; Mollusca; Myosins; Time Factors


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Contraction of many muscles is activated in part by the binding of Ca(2+) to, or phosphorylation of, the myosin heads on the surface of the thick filaments. In relaxed muscle, the myosin heads are helically ordered and undergo minimal interaction with actin. On Ca(2+) binding or phosphorylation, the head array becomes disordered, reflecting breakage of the head-head and other interactions that underlie the ordered structure. Loosening of the heads from the filament surface enables them to interact with actin filaments, bringing about contraction. On relaxation, the heads return to their ordered positions on the filament backbone. In scallop striated adductor muscle, the disordering that takes place on Ca(2+) binding occurs on the millisecond time scale, suggesting that it is a key element of muscle activation. Here we have studied the reverse process. Using time-resolved negative staining electron microscopy, we show that the rate of reordering on removal of Ca(2+) also occurs on the same physiological time scale. Direct observation of images together with analysis of their Fourier transforms shows that activated heads regain their axial ordering within 20 ms and become ordered in their final helical positions within 50 ms. This rapid reordering suggests that reformation of the ordered structure, and the head-head and other interactions that underlie it, is a critical element of the relaxation process.

DOI of Published Version



J Mol Biol. 2008 Aug 29;381(2):256-60. Epub 2008 Jun 18. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of molecular biology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID