, Volume 30, Issue 5-6, pp 171-185,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 15 Oct 2009

The vertebrate muscle Z-disc: sarcomere anchor for structure and signalling


The Z-disc, appearing as a fine dense line forming sarcomere boundaries in striated muscles, when studied in detail reveals crosslinked filament arrays that transmit tension and house myriads of proteins with diverse functions. At the Z-disc the barbed ends of the antiparallel actin filaments from adjoining sarcomeres interdigitate and are crosslinked primarily by layers of α-actinin. The Z-disc is therefore the site of polarity reversal of the actin filaments, as needed to interact with the bipolar myosin filaments in successive sarcomeres. The layers of α-actinin determine the Z-disc width: fast fibres have narrow (~30–50 nm) Z-discs and slow and cardiac fibres have wide (~100 nm) Z-discs. Comprehensive reviews on the roles of the numerous proteins located at the Z-disc in signalling and disease have been published; the aim here is different, namely to review the advances in structural aspects of the Z-disc.