Axial rotation of sliding actin filaments revealed by single-fluorophore imaging

Ichiro Sase, Hidetake Miyata, Shin'ichi Ishiwata, Kazuhiko Kinosita*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


In the actomyosin motor, myosin slides along an actin filament that has a helical structure with a pitch of ≃72 nm. Whether myosin precisely follows this helical track is an unanswered question bearing directly on the motor mechanism. Here, axial rotation of actin filaments sliding over myosin molecules fixed on a glass surface was visualized through fluorescence polarization imaging of individual tetramethylrhodamine fluorophores sparsely bound to the filaments. The filaments underwent one revolution per sliding distance of ≃1 μm, which is much greater than the 72 nm pitch. Thus, myosin does not 'walk' on the helical array of actin protomers; rather it 'runs,' skipping many protomers. Possible mechanisms involving sequential interaction of myosin with successive actin protomers are ruled out at least for the preparation described here in which the actin filaments ran rather slowly compared with other in vitro systems. The result also indicates that each 'kick' of myosin is primarily along the axis of the actin filament. The successful, real-time observation of the changes in the orientation of a single fluorophore opens the possibility of detecting a conformational change(s) of a single protein molecule at the moment it functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5646-5650
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1997 May 27
Externally publishedYes


  • Epifluorescence microscopy
  • Fluorescence polarization
  • Force generation
  • In vitro motility
  • Molecular motor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Axial rotation of sliding actin filaments revealed by single-fluorophore imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this