Skeletal myosins II are non-processive molecular motors that work in ensembles to produce muscle contraction while binding to the actin filament. Although the molecular properties of myosin II are well known, there is still debate about the collective work of the motors: is there cooperativity between myosin motors while binding to the actin filaments? In this study, we use high-speed AFM to evaluate this issue. We observed that the initial binding of small arrays of myosin heads to the non-regulated actin filaments did not affect the cooperative probability of subsequent bindings and did not lead to an increase in the fractional occupancy of the actin binding sites. These results suggest that myosin motors are independent force generators when connected in small arrays, and that the binding of one myosin does not alter the kinetics of other myosins. In contrast, the probability of binding of myosin heads to regulated thin filaments under activating conditions (at high Ca2+ concentration in the presence of 2 μM ATP) was increased with the initial binding of one myosin, leading to a larger occupancy of available binding sites at the next half-helical pitch of the filament. The result suggests that myosin cooperativity is observed over five pseudo-repeats and defined by the activation status of the thin filaments.

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