Threads of contractile proteins were formed via extrusion and their isometric tensions and isotonic contraction velocities were measured. We obtained reproducible data by using a new and sensitive tensiometer. The force-velocity curves of actomyosin threads were similar to those of muscle, with isometric tensions of the order of 10g/cm2 and maximum contraction velocites of the order of 10(-2) lengths/s. The data could be fitted by Hill's equation. Addition of tropomyosin and troponin to the threads increased isometric tension and maximum contraction velocity. Threads which contained troponin and tropomyosin required Ca++ for contraction and the dependence of their isometric tension on the level of free Ca++ was like that of muscle. The dependence of tension or of contraction velocity upon temperature or upon ionic strength is similar for actomyosin threads and muscle fibers. In contrast, the dependence of most parameters which are characteristic of the actomyosin interaction in solution (or suspension) upon these variables is not similar to the dependence of the muscle fiber parameters. The conclusion we have drawn from these results is that the mechanism of tension generation in the threads is similar to the mechanism that exists in muscle. Because the protein composition of the thread system can be manipulated readily and because the tensions and velocities of the threads can be related directly to the physiological parameters of muscle fibers, the threads provide a powerful method for studying contractile proteins.

This content is only available as a PDF.