Connectin (also called titin) is a huge, striated muscle protein that binds to thick filaments and links them to the Z-disc. Using an mAb that binds to connectin in the I-band region of the molecule, we studied the behavior of connectin in both relaxed and activated skinned rabbit psoas fibers by immunoelectron microscopy. In relaxed fibers, antibody binding is visualized as two extra striations per sarcomere arranged symmetrically about the M-line. These striations move away from both the nearest Z-disc and the thick filaments when the sarcomere is stretched, confirming the elastic behavior of connectin within the I-band of relaxed sarcomeres as previously observed by several investigators. When the fiber is activated, thick filaments in sarcomeres shorter than 2.8 microns tend to move from the center to the side of the sarcomere. This translocation of thick filaments within the sarcomere is accompanied by movement of the antibody label in the same direction. In that half-sarcomere in which the thick filaments move away from the Z-disc, the spacings between the Z-disc and the antibody and between the antibody and the thick filaments both increase. Conversely, on the side of the sarcomere in which the thick filaments move nearer to the Z-line, these spacings decrease. Regardless of whether I-band spacing is varied by stretch of a relaxed sarcomere or by active sliding of thick filaments within a sarcomere of constant length, the spacings between the Z-line and the antibody and between the antibody and the thick filaments increase with I-band length identically. These results indicate that the connectin filaments remain bound to the thick filaments in active fibers, and that the elastic properties of connectin are unaltered by calcium ions and cross-bridge activity.

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