Monday, December 9, 2013

Direct Observation of Phosphate Inhibiting the Force-Generating Capacity of a Miniensemble of Myosin Molecules

Edward P. Debold, Sam Walcott, Mike Woodward, Matthew A. Turner

Elevated levels of phosphate (Pi) reduce isometric force, providing support for the notion that the release of Pi from myosin is closely associated with the generation of muscular force. Pi is thought to rebind to actomyosin in an ADP-bound state and reverse the force-generating steps, including the rotation of the lever arm (i.e., the powerstroke). Despite extensive study, this mechanism remains controversial, in part because it fails to explain the effects of Pi on isometric ATPase and unloaded shortening velocity. To gain new insight into this process, we determined the effect of Pi on the force-generating capacity of a small ensemble of myosin (∼12 myosin heads) using a three-bead laser trap assay. In the absence of Pi, myosin pulled the actin filament out of the laser trap an average distance of 54 ± 4 nm, translating into an average peak force of 1.2 pN. By contrast, in the presence of 30 mM Pi, myosin generated only enough force to displace the actin filament by 13 ± 1 nm, generating just 0.2 pN of force. The elevated Pi also caused a >65% reduction in binding-event lifetime, suggesting that Pi induces premature detachment from a strongly bound state. Definitive evidence of a Pi-induced powerstroke reversal was not observed, therefore we determined if a branched kinetic model in which Pi induces detachment from a strongly bound, postpowerstroke state could explain these observations. The model was able to accurately reproduce not only the data presented here, but also the effects of Pi on both isometric ATPase in muscle fibers and actin filament velocity in a motility assay. The ability of the model to capture the findings presented here as well as previous findings suggests that Pi-induced inhibition of force may proceed along a kinetic pathway different from that of force generation.

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