We examined whether or not purified actin binds to the ends of thin filaments in rabbit skeletal myofibrils. Phase-contrast, fluorescence, and electron microscopic observations revealed that actin does not bind to the ends of thin filaments of intact myofibrils. However, in I-Z-I brushes prepared by dissolving thick filaments at high ionic strength, marked binding of actin to the free ends, i.e., the pointed ends, of thin filaments was observed when actin was added at an early phase of polymerization. As the polymerization of actin proceeded, the binding efficiency decreased. The critical actin concentration for this binding was higher than that for polymerization in solution. The binding of G-actin was not observed at low ionic strength. On the basis of these results, we suggest that a particular structure suppressing the binding of actin is present at the free ends of thin filaments in intact myofibrils and that a part of the end structure population is eliminated or modified at high ionic strength so that further binding of actin becomes possible. The myofibril and I-Z-I brush appear to be useful systems for studies aimed at elucidating the organizational mechanisms of actin filaments in vivo.

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