The regulation of vertebrate striated muscle contraction involves a number of different molecules, including the thin-filament accessory proteins tropomyosin and troponin that provide Ca(2+)-dependent regulation by controlling access to myosin binding sites on actin. Cardiac myosin binding protein C (cMyBP-C) appears to modulate this Ca(2+)-dependent regulation and has attracted increasing interest due to links with inherited cardiac diseases. A number of single amino acid mutations linked to clinical diseases occur in the N-terminal region of cMyBP-C, including domains C0 and C1, which previously have been shown to bind to F-actin. This N-terminal region also has been shown to both inhibit and activate actomyosin interactions in vitro. Using electron microscopy and three-dimensional reconstruction, we show that C0 and C1 can each bind to the same two distinctly different positions on F-actin. One position aligns well with the previously reported binding site that clashes with the binding of myosin to actin, but would force tropomyosin into an "on" position that exposes myosin binding sites along the filament. The second position identified here would not interfere with either myosin binding or tropomyosin positioning. It thus appears that the ability to bind to at least two distinctly different positions on F-actin, as observed for tropomyosin, may be more common than previously considered for other actin binding proteins. These observations help to explain many of the seemingly contradictory results obtained with cMyBP-C and show how cMyBP-C can provide an additional layer of regulation to actin-myosin interactions. They also suggest a redundancy of C0 and C1 that may explain the absence of C0 in skeletal muscle.
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