Two independent mechanical events in the interaction cycle of skeletal muscle myosin with actin

M. Capitanio, M. Canepari, P. Cacciafesta, V. Lombardi, R. Cicchi, M. Maffei, F. S. Pavone, R. Bottinelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


During skeletal muscle contraction, regular arrays of actin and myosin filaments slide past each other driven by the cyclic ATP-dependent interaction of the motor protein myosin II (the cross-bridge) with actin. The rate of the cross-bridge cycle and its load-dependence, defining shortening velocity and energy consumption at the molecular level, vary widely among different isoforms of myosin II. However, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We have addressed this question by applying a single-molecule approach to rapidly (≈300 μs) and precisely (≈0.1 nm) detect acto-myosin interactions of two myosin isoforms having large differences in shortening velocity. We show that skeletal myosin propels actin filaments, performing its conformational change (working stroke) in two steps. The first step (≈3.4-5.2 nm) occurs immediately after myosin binding and is followed by a smaller step (≈1.0-1.3 nm), which occurs much faster in the fast myosin isoform than in the slow one, independently of ATP concentration. On the other hand, the rate of the second phase of the working stroke, from development of the latter step to dissociation of the acto-myosin complex, is very similar in the two isoforms and depends linearly on ATP concentration. The finding of a second mechanical event in the working stroke of skeletal muscle myosin provides the molecular basis for a simple model of acto-myosin interaction. This model can account for the variation, in different fiber types, of the rate of the cross-bridge cycle and provides a common scheme for the chemo-mechanical transduction within the myosin family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 3 2006


  • Isoforms
  • Optical tweezers
  • Single molecule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General

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