Auxotonicto isometric contraction transitioning in a beating heart causes Myosin step-size to down shift

Thomas P. Burghardt, Xiaojing Sun, Yihua Wang, Katalin Ajtai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Myosin motors in cardiac ventriculum convert ATP free energy to the work of moving blood volume under pressure. The actin bound motor cyclically rotates its lever-arm/light-chain complex linking motor generated torque to the myosin filament backbone and translating actin against resisting force. Previous research showed that the unloaded in vitro motor is described with high precision by single molecule mechanical characteristics including unitary step-sizes of approximately 3, 5, and 8 nm and their relative step-frequencies of approximately 13, 50, and 37%. The 3 and 8 nm unitary step-sizes are dependent on myosin essential light chain (ELC) N-terminus actin binding. Step-size and step-frequency quantitation specifies in vitro motor function including duty-ratio, power, and strain sensitivity metrics. In vivo, motors integrated into the muscle sarcomere form the more complex and hierarchically functioning muscle machine. The goal of the research reported here is to measure single myosin step-size and step-frequency in vivo to assess how tissue integration impacts motor function. A photoactivatable GFP tags the ventriculum myosin lever-arm/light-chain complex in the beating heart of a live zebrafish embryo. Detected single GFP emission reports timeresolved myosin lever-arm orientation interpreted as step-size and step-frequency providing single myosin mechanical characteristics over the active cycle. Following step-frequency of cardiac ventriculum myosin transitioning from low to high force in relaxed to auxotonic to isometric contraction phases indicates that the imposition of resisting force during contraction causes the motor to down-shift to the 3 nm step-size accounting for >80% of all the steps in the near-isometric phase. At peak force, the ATP initiated actomyosin dissociation is the predominant strain inhibited transition in the native myosin contraction cycle. The proposed model for motor down-shifting and strain sensing involves ELC N-terminus actin binding. Overall, the approach is a unique bottom-up single molecule mechanical characterization of a hierarchically functional native muscle myosin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0174690
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Auxotonicto isometric contraction transitioning in a beating heart causes Myosin step-size to down shift'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this