Sarcomere formation occurs by the assembly of multiple latent protein complexes

PLoS Genet. 2010 Nov 18;6(11):e1001208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001208.


The stereotyped striation of myofibrils is a conserved feature of muscle organization that is critical to its function. Although most components that constitute the basic myofibrils are well-characterized biochemically and are conserved across the animal kingdom, the mechanisms leading to the precise assembly of sarcomeres, the basic units of myofibrils, are poorly understood. To gain insights into this process, we investigated the functional relationships of sarcomeric protein complexes. Specifically, we systematically analyzed, using either RNAi in primary muscle cells or available genetic mutations, the organization of myofibrils in Drosophila muscles that lack one or more sarcomeric proteins. Our study reveals that the thin and thick filaments are mutually dependent on each other for striation. Further, the tension sensor complex comprised of zipper/Zasp/α-actinin is involved in stabilizing the sarcomere but not in its initial formation. Finally, integrins appear essential for the interdigitation of thin and thick filaments that occurs prior to striation. Thus, sarcomere formation occurs by the coordinated assembly of multiple latent protein complexes, as opposed to sequential assembly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / metabolism
  • Sarcomeres / metabolism*
  • Tropomyosin / metabolism
  • Troponin / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Integrins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Tropomyosin
  • Troponin
  • Myosin Heavy Chains