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Structure of Contractile Proteins

Each actin (thin) filament is made of two ‘F’ (filamentous) actins helically wound to each other. Each ‘F’ actin is a polymer of monomeric ‘G’ (Globular) actins. Two filaments of another protein, tropomyosin also run close to the ‘F’ actins throughout its length. A complex protein Troponin is distributed at regular intervals on the tropomyosin. In the resting state a subunit of troponin masks the active binding sites for myosin on the actin filaments (Figure 3a).
Each myosin (thick) filament is also a polymerised protein. Many monomeric proteins called Meromyosins (Figure 3b) constitute one thick filament. Each meromyosin has two important parts, a globular head with a short arm and a tail, the former being called the heavy meromyosin (HMM) and the latter, the light meromyosin (LMM). The HMM component, i.e.; the head and short arm projects outwards at regular distance and angle from each other from the surface of a polymerised myosin filament and is known as cross arm. The globular head is an active ATPase enzyme and has binding sites for ATP and active sites for actin.

(a) An actin (thin) filament (b) Myosin monomer (Meromyosin)

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