The A-band part of titin, a striated-muscle specific protein spanning from the Z-line to the M-line, mainly consists of a well-ordered super-repeat array of immunoglobulin-like and fibronectin-type III (fn3)-like domains. Since it has been suspected that the fn3 domains might represent titin's binding sites to myosin, we have developed structural models for all of titin's 132 fn3-like domains. A subset of eight experimentally determined fn3 structures from a range of proteins, including titin itself, was used as homology templates. After grouping the models according to their position within the super-repeat segment of the central A-band titin region, we analyzed the models with respect to side-chain conservation. This showed that conserved residues form an extensive surface pattern predominantly at one side of the domains, whereas domains outside the central C-zone super-repeat region show generally less conserved surfaces. Since the conserved surface residues may function as protein-binding sites, we experimentally studied the binding properties of expressed multi-domain fn3 fragments. This revealed that fn3 fragments specifically bind to the sub-fragment 1 of myosin. We also measured the effect of fn3 fragments on the contractile properties of single cardiac myocytes. At sub-maximal Ca(2+) concentrations, fn3 fragments significantly enhance active tension. This effect is most pronounced at short sarcomere length, and as a result the length-dependence of Ca(2+) activation is reduced. A model of how titin's fn3-like domains may influence actomyosin interaction is proposed.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.