To understand how mutations in thick filament proteins such as cardiac myosin binding protein-C or titin, cause familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathies, it is important to determine the structure of the cardiac thick filament. Techniques for the genetic manipulation of the zebrafish are well established and it has become a major model for the study of the cardiovascular system. Our goal is to develop zebrafish as an alternative system to the mammalian heart model for the study of the structure of the cardiac thick filaments and the proteins that form it. We have successfully isolated thick filaments from zebrafish cardiac muscle, using a procedure similar to those for mammalian heart, and analyzed their structure by negative-staining and electron microscopy. The isolated filaments appear well ordered with the characteristic 42.9 nm quasi-helical repeat of the myosin heads expected from x-ray diffraction. We have performed single particle image analysis on the collected electron microscopy images for the C-zone region of these filaments and obtained a three-dimensional reconstruction at 3.5 nm resolution. This reconstruction reveals structure similar to the mammalian thick filament, and demonstrates that zebrafish may provide a useful model for the study of the changes in the cardiac thick filament associated with disease processes.
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