The myosin filament superlattice in the flight muscles of flies: A-band lattice optimisation for stretch-activation?

J Mol Biol. 2006 Sep 1;361(5):823-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2006.06.072. Epub 2006 Aug 1.


Low-angle X-ray diffraction patterns from relaxed fruitfly (Drosophila) flight muscle recorded on the BioCat beamline at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source (APS) show many features similar to such patterns from the "classic" insect flight muscle in Lethocerus, the giant water bug, but there is a characteristically different pattern of sampling of the myosin filament layer-lines, which indicates the presence of a superlattice of myosin filaments in the Drosophila A-band. We show from analysis of the structure factor for this lattice that the sampling pattern is exactly as expected if adjacent four-stranded myosin filaments, of repeat 116 nm, are axially shifted in the hexagonal A-band lattice by one-third of the 14.5 nm axial spacing between crowns of myosin heads. In addition, electron micrographs of Drosophila and other flies (e.g. the house fly (Musca) and the flesh fly (Sarcophaga)) combined with image processing confirm that the same A-band superlattice occurs in all of these flies; it may be a general property of the Diptera. The different A-band organisation in flies compared with Lethocerus, which operates at a much lower wing beat frequency (approximately 30 Hz) and requires a warm-up period, may be a way of optimising the myosin and actin filament geometry needed both for stretch activation at the higher wing beat frequencies (50 Hz to 1000 Hz) of flies and their need for a rapid escape response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscles / chemistry*
  • Muscles / ultrastructure
  • Myosins / chemistry*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Myosins