Extraction of Thick Filaments in Individual Sarcomeres Affects Force Production by Single Myofibrils.
ABSTRACT: It has been accepted that the force produced by a skeletal muscle myofibril depends on its cross-sectional area but not on the number of active sarcomeres because they are arranged in series. However, a previous study performed by our group showed that blocking actomyosin interactions within an activated myofibril and depleting the thick filaments in one sarcomere unexpectedly reduced force production. In this study, we examined in detail how consecutive depletion of thick filaments in individual sarcomeres within a myofibril affects force production. Myofibrils isolated from rabbit psoas were activated and relaxed using a perfusion system. An extra microperfusion needle filled with a high-ionic strength solution was used to erase thick filaments in individual sarcomeres in real time before myofibril activation. The isometric forces were measured upon activation. The force produced by myofibrils with intact sarcomeres was significantly higher than the force produced by myofibrils with one or more sarcomeres lacking thick filaments (p < 0.0001) irrespective of the number of contractions imposed on the myofibrils and their initial sarcomere length. Our results suggest that the myofibril force is affected by intersarcomere dynamics and the number of active sarcomeres in series.
Project description:The sarcomere is the smallest functional unit of myofibrils in striated muscles. Sarcomeres are connected in series through a network of elastic and structural proteins. During myofibril activation, sarcomeres develop forces that are regulated through complex dynamics among their structures. The mechanisms that regulate intersarcomere dynamics are unclear, which limits our understanding of fundamental muscle features. Such dynamics are associated with the loss in forces caused by mechanical instability encountered in muscle diseases and cardiomyopathy and may underlie potential target treatments for such conditions. In this study, we developed a microfluidic perfusion system to control one sarcomere within a myofibril, while measuring the individual behavior of all sarcomeres. We found that the force from one sarcomere leads to adjustments of adjacent sarcomeres in a mechanism that is dependent on the sarcomere length and the myofibril stiffness. We concluded that the cooperative work of the contractile and the elastic elements within a myofibril rules the intersarcomere dynamics, with important consequences for muscle contraction.
Project description:The contractile units of striated muscle, the sarcomeres, comprise the thick (myosin) and thin (actin) filaments mediating active contraction and the titin filaments determining "passive" elasticity. We hypothesized that titin may be more active in muscle contraction by directly modulating thick-filament properties. We used single-myofibril mechanical measurements and atomic force microscopy of individual sarcomeres to quantify the effects of sarcomere strain and titin spring length on both the inter-filament lattice spacing and the lateral stiffness of the actin-myosin overlap zone (A-band). We found that strain reduced the lattice spacing similarly in sarcomeres with stiff (rabbit psoas) or compliant titin (rabbit diaphragm), but increased A-band lateral stiffness much more in psoas than in diaphragm. The strain-induced alterations in A-band stiffness that occur independently of lattice spacing effects may be due to titin stiffness-sensing by A-band proteins. This mechanosensitivity could play a role in the physiologically important phenomenon of length-dependent activation of striated muscle.
Project description:Sarcomeres are stereotyped force-producing mini-machines of striated muscles. Each sarcomere contains a pseudocrystalline order of bipolar actin and myosin filaments, which are linked by titin filaments. During muscle development, these three filament types need to assemble into long periodic chains of sarcomeres called myofibrils. Initially, myofibrils contain immature sarcomeres, which gradually mature into their pseudocrystalline order. Despite the general importance, our understanding of myofibril assembly and sarcomere maturation in vivo is limited, in large part because determining the molecular order of protein components during muscle development remains challenging. Here, we applied polarization-resolved microscopy to determine the molecular order of actin during myofibrillogenesis in vivo. This method revealed that, concomitantly with mechanical tension buildup in the myotube, molecular actin order increases, preceding the formation of immature sarcomeres. Mechanistically, both muscle and nonmuscle myosin contribute to this actin order gain during early stages of myofibril assembly. Actin order continues to increase while myofibrils and sarcomeres mature. Muscle myosin motor activity is required for the regular and coordinated assembly of long myofibrils but not for the high actin order buildup during sarcomere maturation. This suggests that, in muscle, other actin-binding proteins are sufficient to locally bundle or cross-link actin into highly regular arrays.
Project description:Leiomodin (Lmod) is a muscle-specific F-actin-nucleating protein that is related to the F-actin pointed-end-capping protein tropomodulin (Tmod). However, Lmod contains a unique ?150-residue C-terminal extension that is required for its strong nucleating activity. Overexpression or depletion of Lmod compromises sarcomere organization, but the mechanism by which Lmod contributes to myofibril assembly is not well understood. We show that Tmod and Lmod localize through fundamentally different mechanisms to the pointed ends of two distinct subsets of actin filaments in myofibrils. Tmod localizes to two narrow bands immediately adjacent to M-lines, whereas Lmod displays dynamic localization to two broader bands, which are generally more separated from M-lines. Lmod's localization and F-actin nucleation activity are enhanced by interaction with tropomyosin. Unlike Tmod, the myofibril localization of Lmod depends on sustained muscle contraction and actin polymerization. We further show that Lmod expression correlates with the maturation of myofibrils in cultured cardiomyocytes and that it associates with sarcomeres only in differentiated myofibrils. Collectively, the data suggest that Lmod contributes to the final organization and maintenance of sarcomere architecture by promoting tropomyosin-dependent actin filament nucleation.
Project description:In this study, we measured the stiffness of skeletal muscle myofibrils in rigor. Using a custom-built atomic force microscope, myofibrils were first placed in a rigor state then stretched and shortened at different displacements (0.1-0.3 ?m per sarcomere) and nominal speeds (0.4 and 0.8 ?m/s). During stretching, the myofibril stiffness was independent of both displacement and speed (average of 987 nN/?m). During shortening, the myofibril stiffness was independent of displacement, but dependent on speed (1234 nN/?m at 0.4 ?m/s; 1106 nN/?m at 0.8 ?m/s). Furthermore, the myofibril stiffness during shortening was greater than that during stretching and the difference depended on speed (31% at 0.4 ?m/s; 8% at 0.8 ?m/s). The results suggest that the myofibrils exhibit nonlinear viscoelastic properties that may be derived from myofibril filaments, similar to what has been observed in muscle fibers.
Project description:The goal of this study was to evaluate if isolated sarcomeres and half-sarcomeres produce a long-lasting increase in force after a stretch is imposed during activation. Single and half-sarcomeres were isolated from myofibrils using micro-needles, which were also used for force measurements. After full force development, both preparations were stretched by different magnitudes. The sarcomere length (SL) or half-sarcomere length variations (HSL) were extracted by measuring the initial and final distances from the Z-line to the adjacent Z-line or to a region externally adjacent to the M-line of the sarcomere, respectively. Half-sarcomeres generated approximately the same amount of isometric force (29.0 ± SD 15.5?nN·?m(-2)) as single sarcomeres (32.1 ± SD 15.3?nN·?m(-2)) when activated. In both cases, the steady-state forces after stretch were higher than the forces during isometric contractions at similar conditions. The results suggest that stretch-induced force enhancement is partly caused by proteins within the half-sarcomere.
Project description:The mechanisms behind the shortening-induced force depression commonly observed in skeletal muscles remain unclear, but have been associated with sarcomere length non-uniformity and/or crossbridge inhibition. The purpose of this study was twofold: (i) to evaluate if force depression is present in isolated single sarcomeres, a preparation that eliminates sarcomere length non-uniformities and (ii) to evaluate if force depression is inhibited when single sarcomeres are activated with MgADP, which biases crossbridges into a strongly-bound state. Single sarcomeres (n = 16) were isolated from rabbit psoas myofibrils using two micro-needles (one compliant, one rigid), piercing the sarcomere externally adjacent to the Z-lines. The sarcomeres were contracted isometrically and subsequently shortened, in both Ca(2+)- and MgADP-activating solutions. Shortening in Ca(2+)-activated samples resulted in a 27.44 ± 9.04% force depression when compared to isometric contractions produced at similar final sarcomere lengths (P < 0.001). There was no force depression in MgADP-activated sarcomeres (force depression = -1.79 ± 9.69%, P = 0.435). These results suggest that force depression is a sarcomeric property, and that is associated with an inhibition of myosin-actin interactions.
Project description:The regulatory mechanism of sarcomeric activity has not been fully clarified yet because of its complex and cooperative nature, which involves both Ca(2+) and cross-bridge binding to the thin filament. To reveal the mechanism of regulation mediated by the cross-bridges, separately from the effect of Ca(2+), we investigated the force-sarcomere length (SL) relationship in rabbit skeletal myofibrils (a single myofibril or a thin bundle) at SL > 2.2 microm in the absence of Ca(2+) at various levels of activation by exogenous MgADP (4-20 mM) in the presence of 1 mM MgATP. The individual SLs were measured by phase-contrast microscopy to confirm the homogeneity of the striation pattern of sarcomeres during activation. We found that at partial activation with 4-8 mM MgADP, the developed force nonlinearly depended on the length of overlap between the thick and the thin filaments; that is, contrary to the maximal activation, the maximal active force was generated at shorter overlap. Besides, the active force became larger, whereas this nonlinearity tended to weaken, with either an increase in [MgADP] or the lateral osmotic compression of the myofilament lattice induced by the addition of a macromolecular compound, dextran T-500. The model analysis, which takes into account the [MgADP]- and the lattice-spacing-dependent probability of cross-bridge formation, was successfully applied to account for the force-SL relationship observed at partial activation. These results strongly suggest that the cross-bridge works as a cooperative activator, the function of which is highly sensitive to as little as <or=1 nm changes in the lattice spacing.
Project description:Muscles organise a pseudo-crystalline array of actin, myosin and titin filaments to build force-producing sarcomeres. To study how sarcomeres are built, we performed mRNA-sequencing of developing Drosophila flight muscles and identified 40 distinct expression profile clusters. Strikingly, two clusters are strongly enriched for sarcomeric components. Temporal gene expression together with detailed morphological analysis enabled us to define two distinct phases of sarcomere development, both of which require the transcriptional regulator Spalt major. During the first sarcomere formation phase, 2.0 µm long immature sarcomeres assemble myofibrils that spontaneously contract. In the second sarcomere maturation phase, sarcomeres grow to their final 3.2 µm length and 1.5 µm diameter and acquire stretch-sensitivity. Interestingly, the final number of myofibrils per flight muscle fiber is determined at the onset of the first phase and remains constant. Together, this defines a biphasic mode of sarcomere and myofibril morphogenesis – a new concept which may also apply to vertebrate muscle or heart development. Overall design: Part I: An 8-point timecourse of wild-type flight muscle development in Drosophila melanogaster was analyzed with duplicates/triplicates for each timepoint Part II: A Mef2-Gal4 x salmIR timecourse in duplicate at 4 timepoints was compared to wild-type flight muscle
Project description:Muscles organise pseudo-crystalline arrays of actin, myosin and titin filaments to build force-producing sarcomeres. To study sarcomerogenesis, we have generated a transcriptomics resource of developing Drosophila flight muscles and identified 40 distinct expression profile clusters. Strikingly, most sarcomeric components group in two clusters, which are strongly induced after all myofibrils have been assembled, indicating a transcriptional transition during myofibrillogenesis. Following myofibril assembly, many short sarcomeres are added to each myofibril. Subsequently, all sarcomeres mature, reaching 1.5 µm diameter and 3.2 µm length and acquiring stretch-sensitivity. The efficient induction of the transcriptional transition during myofibrillogenesis, including the transcriptional boost of sarcomeric components, requires in part the transcriptional regulator Spalt major. As a consequence of Spalt knock-down, sarcomere maturation is defective and fibers fail to gain stretch-sensitivity. Together, this defines an ordered sarcomere morphogenesis process under precise transcriptional control - a concept that may also apply to vertebrate muscle or heart development.