In this chapter, we present the current knowledge on de novo assembly, growth, and dynamics of striated myofibrils, the functional architectural elements developed in skeletal and cardiac muscle. The data were obtained in studies of myofibrils formed in cultures of mouse skeletal and quail myotubes, in the somites of living zebrafish embryos, and in mouse neonatal and quail embryonic cardiac cells. The comparative view obtained revealed that the assembly of striated myofibrils is a three-step process progressing from premyofibrils to nascent myofibrils to mature myofibrils. This process is specified by the addition of new structural proteins, the arrangement of myofibrillar components like actin and myosin filaments with their companions into so-called sarcomeres, and in their precise alignment. Accompanying the formation of mature myofibrils is a decrease in the dynamic behavior of the assembling proteins. Proteins are most dynamic in the premyofibrils during the early phase and least dynamic in mature myofibrils in the final stage of myofibrillogenesis. This is probably due to increased interactions between proteins during the maturation process. The dynamic properties of myofibrillar proteins provide a mechanism for the exchange of older proteins or a change in isoforms to take place without disassembling the structural integrity needed for myofibril function. An important aspect of myofibril assembly is the role of actin-nucleating proteins in the formation, maintenance, and sarcomeric arrangement of the myofibrillar actin filaments. This is a very active field of research. We also report on several actin mutations that result in human muscle diseases.
Keywords: Actin; DNase1; Formin; Gelsolin; I-bands; Jasplakinolide; Latrunculin A; Leiomodin; Mature myofibril; Muscle myosin II; Muscle myosin-binding protein C; Myofibrillogenesis; Myomesin; Myosin; Nascent myofibril; Nonmuscle myosin II; Premyofibril; Tropomodulin; Tropomyosin; Vitamin D-binding protein; Z-bands; Z-bodies; α-Actinin.