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Stretching helices help keep muscles together

Date:
February 15, 2012
Source:
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that the elastic part of myomesin, a protein that links muscle filaments, can stretch to two and a half times its original length, unfolding in a way that was hitherto unknown.

Myomesin stretches to 2.5 times its length.
Credit: EMBL/Wilmanns

A protein called myomesin does its impression of Mr. Fantastic, the leader of the Fantastic Four of comic book fame, who performed incredible feats by stretching his body. Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Hamburg, Germany, have discovered that the elastic part of this protein can stretch to two and a half times its original length, unfolding in a way that was hitherto unknown.

In muscle, the stretchy tails of two myomesin molecules come together, forming an elastic bridge that keeps a bundle of muscle fibres together. Each tail looks like a set of pearls -- called immunoglobulin-like domains (pink, blue) -- spaced out along an elastic band of structures known as alpha helices (green). When the protein is pulled, as it is when muscles contract and extend, the helices unfold.

To obtain this unprecedentedly detailed view of myomesin's three-dimensional structure and discover the secret behind its stretchiness, the scientists combined an array of techniques: X-ray crystallography, small angle X-ray scattering, electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy.

"Next, we would like to determine the structure of the complete myomesin filament," says Matthias Wilmanns, Head of EMBL Hamburg, who led the work, "and to find out about the protein's function in living organisms, starting with animal models."

The work, recently published in PLoS Biology, was conducted in collaboration with scientists from the Technical University of Munich, in Germany, and The Institute of Cancer Research, in the UK.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nikos Pinotsis, Spyros D. Chatziefthimiou, Felix Berkemeier, Fabienne Beuron, Irene M. Mavridis, Petr V. Konarev, Dmitri I. Svergun, Edward Morris, Matthias Rief, Matthias Wilmanns. Superhelical Architecture of the Myosin Filament-Linking Protein Myomesin with Unusual Elastic Properties. PLoS Biology, 2012; 10 (2): e1001261 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001261

Cite This Page:

European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "Stretching helices help keep muscles together." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215123949.htm>.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. (2012, February 15). Stretching helices help keep muscles together. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215123949.htm
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "Stretching helices help keep muscles together." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215123949.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

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