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- Development of Enabling Technologies to Visualize the Plant Lipidome
- Improvements in mass spectrometry (MS)-based strategies for characterizing the plant lipidome through quantitative and qualitative approaches such as shotgun lipidomics have substantially enhanced our understanding of the structural diversity and functional complexity of plant lipids. However, most of these approaches require chemical extractions that result in the loss of the original spatial context and cellular compartmentation for these compounds. To address this current limitation, several technologies were developed to visualize lipids in situ with detailed chemical information. A subcellular visualization approach, direct organelle MS, was developed for directly sampling and analyzing the triacylglycerol contents within purified lipid droplets (LDs) at the level of a single LD. Sampling of single LDs demonstrated seed lipid droplet-to-droplet variability in triacylglycerol (TAG) composition suggesting that there may be substantial variation in the intracellular packaging process for neutral lipids in plant tissues. A cellular and tissue visualization approach, MS imaging, was implemented and enhanced for visualizing the lipid distributions in oilseeds. In mature cotton seed embryos distributions of storage lipids (TAGs) and their phosphatidylcholine (PCs) precursors were distribution heterogeneous between the cotyledons and embryonic axis raising new questions about extent and regulation of oilseed heterogeneity. Extension of this methodology provides an avenue for understanding metabolism in cellular (perhaps even subcellular) context with substantial metabolic engineering implications. To visualize metabolite distributions, a free and customizable application, Metabolite Imager, was developed providing several tools for spatially-based chemical data analysis. These tools collectively enable new forms of visualizing the plant lipidome and should prove valuable toward addressing additional unanswered biological questions.
- Evidence for Multiple Functions of a Medicago Truncatula Transporter
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Legumes play an important role in agriculture as major food sources for humans and as feed for animals. Bioavailable nitrogen is a limiting nutrient for crop growth. Legumes are important because they can form a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria called rhizobia that results in nitrogen-fixing root nodules. In this symbiosis, rhizobia provide nitrogen to the legumes and the legumes provide carbon sources to the rhizobia. The Medicago truncatula NPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene is essential for root nodule development and also for proper development of root architecture. Work in our lab on the MtNPF1.7/MtNIP/LATD gene has established that it encodes a nitrate transporter and strongly suggests it has another function. Mtnip-1/latd mutants have pleiotropic defects, which are only partially explained by defects in nitrate transport. MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD is a member of the large and diverse NPF/NRT1(PTR) transporter family. NPF/NRT1(PTR) members have been shown to transport other compounds in addition to nitrate: nitrite, amino acids, di- and tri-peptides, dicarboxylates, auxin, abscisic acid and glucosinolates. In Arabidopsis thaliana, the AtNPF6.3/NRT1.1( CHL1) transporter was shown to transport auxin as well as nitrate. Atchl1 mutants have defects in root architecture, which may be explained by defects in auxin transport and/or nitrate sensing. Considering the pleiotropic phenotypes observed in Mtnip-1/latd mutant plants, it is possible that MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD could have similar activity as AtNPF6.3/NRT1.1(CHL1). Experimental evidence shows that the MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene is able to restore nitrate-absent responsiveness defects of the Atchl1-5 mutant. The constitutive expression of MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene was able to partially, but not fully restore the wild-type phenotype in the Atchl1-5 mutant line in response to auxin and cytokinin. The constitutive expression of MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene affects the lateral root density of wild-type Col-0 plants differently in response to IAA in the presence of high (1mM) or low (0.1 mM) nitrate. MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene expression is not regulated by nitrate at the concentrations tested and MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD does not regulate the nitrate-responsive MtNRT2.1 gene. Mtnip-1 plants have an abnormal gravitropic root response implicating an auxin defect. Together with these results, MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD is associated with nitrate and auxin; however, it does not act in a homologous fashion as AtNPF6.3/NRT1.1(CHL1) does in A. thaliana.
- Functional Characterization of Mtnip/latd’s Biochemical and Biological Function
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Symbiotic nitrogen fixation occurs in plants harboring nitrogen-fixing bacteria within the plant tissue. The most widely studied association is between the legumes and rhizobia. In this relationship the plant (legumes) provides the bacteria (rhizobia) with reduced carbon derived from photosynthesis in exchange for reduced atmospheric nitrogen. This allows the plant to survive in soil, which is low in available of nitrogen. Rhizobia infect and enter plant root and reside in organs known as nodules. In the nodules the bacteria fix atmospheric nitrogen. The association between the legume, Medicago truncatula and the bacteria Sinorhizobium meliloti, has been studied in detail. Medicago mutants that have defects in nodulation help us understand the process of nitrogen fixation better. One such mutant is the Mtnip-1. Mtnip-1 plants respond to S. meliloti by producing abnormal nodules in which numerous aberrant infection threads are produced, with very rare rhizobial release into host plant cells. The mutant plant Mtnip-1 has an abnormal defense-like response in root nodules as well as defects in lateral root development. Three alleles of the Mtnip/latd mutants, Mtnip-1, Mtlatd and Mtnip-3 show different degrees of severity in their phenotype. Phylogenetic analysis showed that MtNIP/LATD encodes a protein belonging to the NRT1(PTR) family of nitrate, peptide, dicarboxylate and phytohprmone transporters. Experiments with Mtnip/latd mutants demonstrats a defective nitrate response associated with low (250 μM) external nitrate concentration rather than high (5 mM) nitrate concentration. This suggests that the mutants have defective nitrate transport. To test if MtNIP/LATD was a nitrate transporter, Xenopus laevis oocytes and Arabidopsis thaliana mutant plants Atchl1-5, defective in a major nitrate transporter AtNRT1.1(CHL1), were used as surrogate expression systems. Heterologous expression of MtNIP/LATD in X. laevis oocytes and Atchl1-5 mutant plants conferred on them the ability to take up nitrate from external media with high affinity, thus demonstrating that MtNIP/LATD was a high affinity nitrate transporter. Km for MtNIP/LATD was determined to be approximately160 μM in the X. laevis system and 113 μM in the Arabidopsis Atchl1-5 mutant lines thus supporting the previous observation of MtNIP/LATD being a high affinity nitrate transporter. X. laevis expressing the mutant Mtnip-1 and Mtlatd, were unable to transport nitrate. However X. laevis oocytes, expressing the less severe mutant allele Mtnip-3 were able to transport nitrate suggesting another role of the Mtnip/latd besides high affinity nitrate transport. Experimental evidence suggested that MtNIP/LATD might transport another substrate beside nitrate. MtNIP/LATD levels are regulated by phytohormones. Experiments performed with ABA (abscisic acid), IAA (indole acetic acid) and histidine as substrates in X. laevis system show that the MtNIP/LATD mRNA injected oocytes efflux IAA but do not transport histidine or ABA. When wild type A17 and mutant Mtnip-1 and Mtnip-3 plants, grown in the presence of different sources of nitrogen were screened in herbicide chlorate, a structural analog of nitrate, the A17 and Mtnip-3 mutant showed levels of susceptibility that was different from mutant Mtnip-1 lines. Evidence suggested that the amount of chlorate transported into the plants were regulated by the C:N status of the A17 and Mtnip-3 plants. This regulation was missing in the Mtnip-1 lines thus suggesting a sensor function of MtNIP/LATD gene.
- Functional Characterization of Plant Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolases
- Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) terminates the endocannabinoid signaling pathway that regulates numerous neurobehavioral processes in animals by hydrolyzing a class of lipid mediators, N-acylethanolamines (NAEs). Recent identification of an Arabidopsis FAAH homologue (AtFAAH) and several studies, especially those using AtFAAH overexpressing and knock-out lines suggest that a FAAH-mediated pathway exists in plants for the metabolism of endogenous NAEs. Here, I provide evidence to support this concept by identifying candidate FAAH cDNA sequences in diverse plant species. NAE amidohydrolase assays confirmed that several of the proteins encoded by these cDNAs indeed catalyzed the hydrolysis of NAEs in vitro. Kinetic parameters, inhibition properties, and substrate specificities of the plant FAAH enzymes were very similar to those of mammalian FAAH. Five amino acid residues determined to be important for catalysis by rat FAAH were absolutely conserved within the plant FAAH sequences. Site-directed mutation of each of the five putative catalytic residues in AtFAAH abolished its hydrolytic activity when expressed in Escherichia coli. Contrary to overexpression of native AtFAAH in Arabidopsis that results in enhanced seedling growth, and in seedlings that were insensitive to exogenous NAE, overexpression of the inactive AtFAAH mutants showed no growth enhancement and no NAE tolerance. However, both active and inactive AtFAAH overexpressors displayed hypersensitivity to ABA, suggesting a function of the enzyme independent of its catalytic activity toward NAE substrates. Yeast two-hybrid screening identified Arg/Ser-rich zinc knuckle-containing protein as a candidate protein that physically and domain-specifically interacts with AtFAAH and its T-DNA knock-out Arabidopsis was hypersensitive to ABA to a degree similar to AtFAAH overexpressors. Taken together, AtFAAH appears to have a bifurcating function, via NAE hydrolysis and protein-protein interaction, to control Arabidopsis growth and interaction with phytohormone signaling pathways. These studies help to functionally define the group of enzymes that metabolize NAEs in plants, and further will expand the knowledge-base of lipid metabolism and signaling for manipulation of various physiological processes important to plant growth and responses to environmental stress.
- Identification and Characterization of an Arabidopsis Thaliana Mutant with Tolerance to N-lauroylethanolamime
- N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are fatty acid derivatives in plants that negatively influence seedling growth. N-Lauroylethanolamine (NAE 12:0), one type of NAE, inhibits root length, increases radial swelling of root tips and reduces root hair numbers in a dose dependent manner in Arabidopis thaliana L. (ecotype Columbia). A forward genetics approach was employed by screening a population of T-DNA “activation-tagged” developed by the Salk Institute lines for NAE resistance to identify potential genes involved in NAE signaling events in Arabidopsis thaliana L. (ecotype Columbia). Seeds of the activation tagged lines were grown at 0, 25, 30, 50, 75 and 100 µM N-lauroylethanolamime (NAE 12:0). Ten plants which displayed NAE tolerance (NRA) seedling phenotypes, compared with wildtype (Columbia, Col-0) seedlings were identified. I focused on one mutant line, identified as NRA 25, where the tolerance to NAE 12:0 appears to be mediated by a single dominant, nuclear gene. Thermal asymmetric interlaced (TAIL) PCR identified the location of the T-DNA insert as 3.86 kbp upstream of the locus At1g68510. Quantitative PCR indicated that the transcript level corresponding to At1g68510 is upregulated approximately 20 fold in the mutant relative to wildtype. To determine whether the NAE tolerance in NRA 25 is associated with overexpression of At1g68510 I created overexpressing lines of At1g68510 with and without GFP fusions behind the 2X35S CaMV promoter. As predicted, results with overexpressing lines of At1g68510 also exhibited enhanced resistance to NAE when compared with the wildtype. Confocal images of the fusion proteins suggest that GFP-At1g68510 is concentrated in the nucleus and this was confirmed by counterstaining with 4', 6-Diamidino-2-phenylindol (DAPI). Futhermore, At1g68510 overexpressing lines and NRA 25 line also exhibited tolerance to abscisic acid (ABA) during seedling germination. The findings suggests that At1g68510 overexpression mediates seedling tolerance to both ABA and NAE, a mechanism independent of fatty acid amide hydrolase in which its overexpression leads to NAE resistance but hypersensitivity to ABA. The next steps are to identify the association of At1g68510 with specific genomic regions or interacting proteins that may be additional components of NAE signaling in plants.
- Identification of Three Symbiosome Targeting Domains in the MtENOD8 Protein and Cell-to-cell MtENOD8 mRNA Movement in Nodules
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The model legume, Medicago truncatula, is able to enter into a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, known as rhizobia. This relationship involves a carbon for nitrogen exchange in which the plant provides reduced carbon from photosynthesis in exchange for reduced, or “fixed” atmospheric nitrogen, which allows the plant to thrive in nitrogen depleted soils. Rhizobia infect and enter plant root organs, known as nodules, where they reside inside the plant cell in a novel organelle, known as the symbiosome where nitrogen fixation occurs. the symbiosome is enriched in plant proteins, however, little is known about the mechanisms that direct plant proteins to the symbiosome. Using the M. truncatula ENOD8 (MtENOD8) protein as a model to explore symbiosome protein targeting, 3-cis domains were identified within MtENOD8 capable of directing green fluorescent protein (GFP) to the symbiosome, including its N-terminal signal peptide (SP). the SP delivered GFP to the vacuole in the absence of nodules suggesting that symbiosome proteins share a common targeting pathway with vacuolar proteins. a time course analysis during nodulation indicated that there is a nodule specific redirection of MtENOD8-SP from the vacuole to the symbiosome in a MtNIP/LATD dependent manner. GFP expression by the MtENOD8 promoter revealed spatial discrepancy between promoter activity and protein localization. in situ localization of MtENOD8 mRNA showed localization to infected cells, where the protein is found, suggesting mRNA cell-to-cell movement. Expression of MtENOD8 in Arabidopsis showed that the SP did not direct GFP to the vacuole indicating that vacuolar targeting of MtENOD8’s SP may be legume specific. Taken together, the research presented here indicates that the MtENOD8 symbiosome protein has evolved redundant domains for targeting, which has part of a common pathway with vacuolar proteins. Observed spatial discrepancy between the MtENOD8 promoter and protein shows additional mechanisms of gene regulation through cell-to-cell mRNA movement, previously unknown in nodules.
- Interactions of N-Acylethanolamine Metabolism and Abscisic Acid Signaling in Arabidopsis Thaliana Seedlings
- N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are endogenous plant lipids hydrolyzed by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). When wildtype Arabidopsis thaliana seeds were germinated and grown in exogenous NAE 12:0 (35 µM and above), growth was severely reduced in a concentration dependent manner. Wildtype A. thaliana seeds sown on exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) exhibited similar growth reduction to that seen with NAE treatment. AtFAAH knockouts grew and developed similarly to WT, but AtFAAH overexpressor lines show markedly enhanced sensitivity to ABA. When low levels of NAE and ABA, which have very little effect on growth alone, were combined, there was a dramatic reduction in seedling growth in all three genotypes, indicating a synergistic interaction between ABA and NAE. Notably, this synergistic arrest of seedling growth was partially reversed in the ABA insensitive (abi) mutant abi3-1, indicating that a functional ABA signaling pathway is required for the full synergistic effect. This synergistic growth arrest results in an increased accumulation of NAEs, but no concomitant increase in ABA levels. The combined NAE and ABA treatment induced a dose-dependent increase in ABI3 transcript levels, which was inversely related to growth. The ABA responsive genes AtHVA22B and RD29B also had increased expression in both NAE and ABA treatment. The abi3-1 mutant showed no expression of ABI3 and AtHVA22B, but RD29B expression remained similar to wildtype seedlings, suggesting an alternate mechanism for NAE and ABA interaction. Taken together, these data suggest that NAE metabolism acts through ABI3-dependent and independent pathways in the negative regulation of seedling development.
- Manipulating Sucrose Proton Symporters to Understand Phloem Loading
- Phloem vascular tissues transport sugars synthesized by photosynthesis in mature leaves by a process called phloem loading in source tissues and unloading in sink tissues. Phloem loading in source leaves is catalyzed by Suc/H+ symporters (SUTs) which are energized by proton motive force. In Arabidopsis the principal and perhaps exclusive SUT catalyzing phloem loading is AtSUC2. In mutant plants harboring a T-DNA insertion in each of the functional SUT-family members, only Atsuc2 mutants demonstrate overtly debilitated phloem transport. Analysis of a mutant allele (Atsuc2-4) of AtSUC2 with a T-DNA insertion in the second intron showed severely stunted phenotype similar to previously analyzed Atsuc2 null alleles. However unlike previous alleles Atsuc2-4 produced viable seeds. Analysis of phloem specific promoters showed that promoter expression was regulated by Suc concentration. Unlike AtSUC2p, heterologous promoter CoYMVp was not repressed under high Suc conc. Further analysis was conducted using CoYMVp to test the capacity of diverse clades in SUT-gene family for transferring Suc in planta in Atsuc2 - / - mutant background. AtSUC1 and ZmSUT1 from maize complemented Atsuc2 mutant plants to the highest level compared to all other transporters. Over-expression of the above SUTs in phloem showed enhanced Suc loading and transport, but against expectations, plants were stunted. The implications of SUT over-expression to enhance phloem transport and loading are discussed and how it induces a perception of phosphate imbalance is presented.
- Manipulations of Sucrose/proton Symporters and Proton-pumping Pyrophosphatase Lead to Enhanced Phloem Transport But Have Contrasting Effects on Plant Biomass
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Delivery of photoassimilate, mainly sucrose (Suc) from photoautotrophic source leaves provides the substrate for the growth and maintenance of sink tissues such as roots, storage tissues, flowers and fruits, juvenile organs, and seeds. Phloem loading is the energized process of accumulating solute in the sieve element/companion cell complex of source leaf phloem to generate the hydrostatic pressure that drives long-distance transport. In many plants this is catalyzed by Suc/Proton (H+) symporters (SUTs) which are energized by the proton motive force (PMF). Overexpression of SUTs was tested as means to enhance phloem transport and plant productivity. Phloem specific overexpression of AtSUC2 in wild type (WT) tobacco resulted in enhanced Suc loading and transport, but against the hypothesis, plants were stunted and accumulated carbohydrates in the leaves, possibly due to lack of sufficient energy to support enhanced phloem transport. The energy for SUT mediated phloem loading is provided from the PMF, which is ultimately supplied by the oxidation of a small proportion of the loaded photoassimilates. It was previously shown that inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi) is necessary for this oxidation and overexpressing a proton-pumping pyrophosphatase (AVP1) enhanced both shoot and root growth, and augmented several energized processes like nutrient acquisition and stress responses. We propose that AVP1 localizes to the PM of phloem cells and uses PMF to synthesize PPi rather than hydrolyze it, and in doing so, maintains PPi levels for efficient Suc oxidation and ATP production. Enhanced ATP production in turn strengthens the PMF via plasma membrane (PM) ATPase, increasing phloem energization and phloem transport. Phloem-specific and constitutive AVP1 overexpressing lines showed increased growth and more efficiently moved carbohydrates to sink organs compared to WT. This suggested changes in metabolic flux but diagnostic metabolites of central metabolism did not show changes in steady state levels. This research focuses on fundamental aspects of carbon utilization and transport, and has a strong applied component, since increased H+-PPase activity enhances plant biomass, nutrient up-take capacities, and stress tolerance for as yet not fully characterized reasons.
- Metabolic Engineering of Raffinose-Family Oligosaccharides in the Phloem Reveals Alterations in Patterns of Carbon Partitioning and Enhances Resistance to Green Peach Aphid
- Phloem transport is along hydrostatic pressure gradients generated by differences in solute concentration between source and sink tissues. Numerous species accumulate raffinose-family oligosaccharides (RFOs) in the phloem of mature leaves to accentuate the pressure gradient between source and sinks. In this study, metabolic engineering was used to generate RFOs at the inception of the translocation stream of Arabidopsis thaliana, which transports predominantly sucrose. To do this, three genes, GALACTINOL SYNTHASE, RAFFINOSE SYNTHASE and STACHYOSE SYNTHASE, were expressed from promoters specific to the companion cells of minor veins. Two transgenic lines homozygous for all three genes (GRS63 and GRS47) were selected for further analysis. Sugars were extracted and quantified by high performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD), and 21-day old plants of both lines had levels of galactinol, raffinose, and stachyose approaching 50% of total soluble sugar. All three exotic sugars were also identified in phloem exudates from excised leaves of transgenic plants whereas levels were negligible in exudates from wild type leaves. Differences in starch accumulation or degradation between wild type and GRS63 and GRS47 lines were not observed. Similarly, there were no differences in vegetative growth between wild type and engineered plants, but engineered plants flowered earlier. Finally, since the sugar composition of the phloem translocation stream is altered in these plants, we tested for aphid feeding. When green peach aphids were given a choice between WT and transgenic plants, WT plants were preferred. When aphids were reared on only WT or only transgenic plants, aphid fecundity was reduced on the transgenic plants. When aphids were fed on artificial media with and without RFOs, aphid reproduction did not show differences, suggesting the aphid resistance is not a direct effect of the exotic sugars.
- Molecular and Functional Characterization of Medicago Truncatula Npf17 Gene
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Legumes are unique among plants for their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen with the help of soil bacteria rhizobia. Medicago truncatula is used as a model legume to study different aspects of symbiotic nitrogen fixation. M. truncatula, in association with its symbiotic partner Sinorhizobium meliloti, fix atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, which the plant uses for amino acid biosynthesis and the bacteria get reduced photosynthate in return. M. truncatula NPF1.7 previously called MtNIP/LATD is required for symbiotic nitrogen fixing root nodule development and for normal root architecture. Mutations in MtNPF1.7 have defects in these processes. MtNPF1.7 encodes a member of the NPF family of transporters. Experimental results showing that MtNPF1.7 functioning as a high-affinity nitrate transporter are its expression restoring chlorate susceptibility to the Arabidopsis chl1-5 mutant and high nitrate transport in Xenopus laevis oocyte system. However, the weakest Mtnip-3 mutant allele also displays high-affinity nitrate transport in X. laevis oocytes and chlorate susceptibility to the Atchl1-5 mutant, suggesting that MtNPF1.7 might have another biochemical function. Experimental evidence shows that MtNPF1.7 also functions in hormone signaling. Constitutive expression of MtNPF1.7 in several species including M. truncatula results in plants with a robust growth phenotype. Using a synthetic auxin reporter, the presence of higher auxin in both the Mtnip-1 mutant and in M. truncatula plants constitutively expressing MtNPF1.7 was observed. Previous experiments showed MtNPF1.7 expression is hormone regulated and the MtNPF1.7 promoter is active in root and nodule meristems and in the vasculature. Two potential binding sites for an auxin response factors (ARFs) were found in the MtNPF1.7 promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-qRT-PCR confirmed MtARF1 binding these sites. Mutating the MtARF1 binding sites increases MtNPF1.7 expression, suggesting a mechanism for auxin repression of MtNPF1.7. Consistent with these results, constitutive expression of an ARF in wild-type plants partially phenocopies Mtnip-1 mutants’ phenotypes.
- Proteomic Responses in the Gill of Zebrafish Following Exposure to Ibuprofen and Naproxen
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most abundant environmental pharmaceutical contaminants. In this study, a proteomic analysis was conducted to identify proteins differentially expressed in gill tissue of zebrafish (Danio rerio) after a 14-day exposure to the NSAIDs ibuprofen or naproxen. A total of 104 proteins with altered expression as indicated by 2-dimensional electrophoresis were analyzed by liquid chromatography with ion trap mass spectrometry (MS/MS). A total of 14 proteins fulfilled our requirements for identification which included consistency among replicate gels as well as successful MS/MS ion searches with the MASCOT database. The most prominent feature of the differential protein expression observed after NSAID exposure was an up-regulation of proteins belonging to the globin family which are involved in the transport of oxygen from gills and availability of heme molecules required for synthesis of cyclooxygenase. Differential expression was observed at exposure concentrations as low as 1-10 µg/L indicating that altered gene expression may occur in fish subjected to environmentally realistic levels of NSAID exposure.
- The Relationship of Force on Myosin Subfragment 2 Region to the Coiled-Coiled Region of the Myosin Dimer
- The stability of myosin subfragment 2 was analyzed using gravitational force spectroscopy. The region was found to destabilize under physiological force loads, indicating the possibility that subfragment 2 may uncoil to facilitate actin binding during muscle contraction. As a control, synthetic cofilaments were produced to discover if the observations in the single molecule assay were due to the lack of the stability provided by the thick filament. Statistically, there was no difference between the single molecule assay data and the synthetic cofilament assay data. Thus, the instability of the region is due to intrinsic properties within subfragment 2.
- Stretching the Flexible Myosin II Subfragment Using the Novel Gravitational Force Spectroscope, and the Uncoiling of S2
- Familial Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) causes ventricle walls to thicken and often leads to sudden death especially in adults. Mutations in the subfragment 2 (S2) of β-cardiac myosin are implicated in the genetic disorder. This S2 region is a coiled-coil rod region resulting from the dimeric form of myosin II. It has been proposed that an elastic quality allows normal S2 to absorb force during the powerstroke according to the sliding filament model. To test the flexibility of single molecules of S2 against levels of physiological force, the Gravitational Force Spectrometer (GFS) is being developed. This novel system employs a standard microscope on an equatorial mount that allows the spectrometer to be rotated freely in space. Stationary glass beads are attached to a microscope slide where the molecule is tethered between the stationary bead and a smaller mobile bead. The GFS is oriented so that the force of gravity can act on the mobile bead and so impart a small force to the tethered subfragment. Additionally, a video system in conjunction with ImageJ software makes a distance measurement of the molecule possible with a resolution of around 11 nm. The S2 can be stretched parallel or perpendicular to the coiled coil to elucidate different structural properties of the rod. This study is the first to show structural evidence that S2 in vertebrate skeletal myosin uncoils proportionally to physiological force loads. Because of this, the usefulness and promise of the novel GFS is highlighted, and the biological role of S2's flexibility can be directly commented on. If the dimer undergoes uncoiling at physiological force loads as shown, then it is reasonable to think that this might occur in nature in response to the stress of the powerstroke on a single molecule. This unwinding could be to absorb force as a mechanism to protect the muscle fiber.