Information from oblique thin sections and from three-dimensional reconstructions of tilted, transverse thin sections (Cheng, N., and J. F. Deatherage. 1989. J. Cell Biol. 108:1761-1774) has been combined to determine the three-dimensional structure of the honeybee flight muscle Z disk at 70-A resolution. The overall symmetry and structure of the Z disk and its relationship to the rest of the myofibril have been determined by tracing filaments and connecting elements on electron images of oblique sections which have been enhanced by a local crystallographic averaging technique. In the three-dimensional structure, the connecting density between actin filaments can be described as five compact, crystallographically nonequivalent domains. Features C1 and C2 are located on the transverse twofold rotation axes in the central plane of the Z disk. They are associated with the sides of actin filaments of opposite polarity. Features C3, C4, and C5 are present in two symmetry-related sets which are located on opposite sides of the central plane. C3 and C5 are each associated with two filaments of opposite polarity, interacting with the side of one filament and the end of the other filament. C3 and C5 may be involved in stabilizing actin filament ends inside the Z disk. The location of the threefold symmetric connection C4, relative to the thick filament of the adjacent sarcomere, is determined and its possible relationship to the C filament is considered.

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