Hopkins SC, Sabido-David C, van der Heide UA, Ferguson RE, Brandmeier BD, Dale RE, Kendrick-Jones J, Corrie JE, Trentham DR, Irving M, Goldman YE
J Mol Biol 2002 May 17;318(5):1275-91
Structural changes in myosin power many types of cell motility including muscle contraction. Tilting of the myosin light chain domain (LCD) seems to be the final step in transducing the energy of ATP hydrolysis, amplifying small structural changes near the ATP binding site into nanometer-scale motions of the filaments. Here we used polarized fluorescence measurements from bifunctional rhodamine probes attached at known orientations in the LCD to describe the distribution of orientations of the LCD in active contraction and rigor. We applied rapid length steps to perturb the orientations of the population of myosin heads that are attached to actin, and thereby characterized the motions of these force-bearing myosin heads. During active contraction, this population is a small fraction of the total. When the filaments slide in the shortening direction in active contraction, the long axis of LCD tilts towards its nucleotide-free orientation with no significant twisting around this axis. In contrast, filament sliding in rigor produces coordinated tilting and twisting motions.