Modelling muscle motor conformations using low-angle X-ray diffraction

J. M. Squire, H. A. Al-Khayat, J. J. Harford, L. Hudson, T. Irving, C. Knupp, M. K. Reedy

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7 Citations (Scopus)


New results on myosin head organization using analysis of low-angle X-ray diffraction patterns from relaxed insect flight muscle (IFM) from a giant waterbug, building on previous studies of myosin filaments in bony fish skeletal muscle (BFM), show that the information content of such low-angle diffraction patterns is very high despite the 'crystallographically low' resolution limit (65 Å) of the spacings of the Bragg diffraction peaks being used. This high information content and high structural sensitivity arises because: (i) the atomic structures of the domains of the myosin head are known from protein crystallography; and (ii) myosin head action appears to consist mainly of pivoting between domains which themselves stay rather constant in structure; thus (iii) the intensity distribution among diffraction peaks in even the low resolution diffraction pattern is highly determined by the high-resolution distribution of atomically modelled domain mass. A single model was selected among 5000 + computer-generated variations as giving the best fit for the 65 reflections recorded within the selected resolution limit of 65 Å. Clear evidence for a change in shape of the insect flight muscle myosin motor between the resting (probably like the pre-powerstroke) state and the rigor state (considered to mimic the end-of-powerstroke conformation) has been obtained. This illustrates the power of the low-angle X-ray diffraction method. The implications of these new results about myosin motor action during muscle contraction are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalIEE Proceedings Nanobiotechnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Squire, J. M., Al-Khayat, H. A., Harford, J. J., Hudson, L., Irving, T., Knupp, C., & Reedy, M. K. (2003). Modelling muscle motor conformations using low-angle X-ray diffraction. IEE Proceedings Nanobiotechnology, 150(3), 103-110.