Submillisecond rotational dynamics of spin-labeled myosin heads in myofibrils

D. D. Thomas, S. Ishiwata, J. C. Seidel, J. Gergely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


The rotational motion of crossbridges, formed when myosin heads bind to actin, is an essential element of most molecular models of muscle contraction. To obtain direct information about this molecular motion, we have performed saturation transfer EPR experiments in which spin labels were selectively and rigidly attached to myosin heads in purified myosin and in glycerinated myofibrils. In synthetic myosin filaments, in the absence of actin, the spectra indicated rapid rotational motion of heads characterized by an effective correlation time of 10 μs. By contrast, little or no submillisecond rotational motion was observed when isolated myosin heads (subfragment-1) were attached to glass beads or to F-actin, indicating that the bond between the myosin head and actin is quite rigid on this time scale. A similar immobilization of heads was observed in spin-labeled myofibrils in rigor. Therefore, we conclude that virtually all of the myosin heads in a rigor myofibril are immobilized, apparently owing to attachment of heads to actin. Addition of ATP to myofibrils, either in the presence or absence of 0.1 mM Ca2+, produced spectra similar to those observed for myosin filaments in the absence of actin, indicating rapid submillisecond rotational motion. These rsults indicate that either (a) most of the myosin heads are detached at any instant in relaxed or activated myofibrils or (b) attached heads bearing the products of ATP hydrolysis rotate as rapidly as detached heads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-889
Number of pages17
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


Dive into the research topics of 'Submillisecond rotational dynamics of spin-labeled myosin heads in myofibrils'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this