, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 163-175
Date: 08 Aug 2009

Proposed role of the M-band in sarcomere mechanics and mechano-sensing: a model study

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Abstract

In sarcomeres of striated muscles the middle parts of adjacent thick filaments are connected to each other by the M-band proteins. To understand the role of the M-band in sarcomere mechanics a model of forces which pull a thick filament to opposite Z-disks of a sarcomere is considered. Forces of actin-myosin cross-bridges, I-band titin segments and the M-band are accounted for. A continual expression for the M-band force is obtained assuming that the M-band proteins which connect neighbor thick filaments have nonlinear elastic properties. On the ascending and descending limbs of the force-length diagram cross-bridge forces tend to destabilize sarcomere while titin tries to restore its symmetric configuration. When destabilizing cross-bridge force exceeds a critical limit, symmetric configuration of a sarcomere becomes unstable and the M-band buckles. Stiffness of the M-band increases stability only if the M-band is anchored to the extra-sarcomere cytoskeleton. Realistic magnitudes of the M-band buckling require that the M-band proteins have essentially nonlinear elasticity. The buckling may explain the M-band bending and axial misalignment of the thick filaments observed in contracting muscle. We hypothesize that the buckling stretches the titin protein kinase domain localized in the M-band being the signal for mechanical control of gene expression and protein turnover in striated muscle.