Oblique section 3-D reconstruction of relaxed insect flight muscle reveals the cross-bridge lattice in helical registration

Biophys J. 1994 Oct;67(4):1620-33. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(94)80635-6.


In this work we examined the arrangement of cross-bridges on the surface of myosin filaments in the A-band of Lethocerus flight muscle. Muscle fibers were fixed using the tannic-acid-uranyl-acetate, ("TAURAC") procedure. This new procedure provides remarkably good preservation of native features in relaxed insect flight muscle. We computed 3-D reconstructions from single images of oblique transverse sections. The reconstructions reveal a square profile of the averaged myosin filaments in cross section view, resulting from the symmetrical arrangement of four pairs of myosin heads in each 14.5-nm repeat along the filament. The square profiles form a very regular right-handed helical arrangement along the surface of the myosin filament. Furthermore, TAURAC fixation traps a near complete 38.7 nm labeling of the thin filaments in relaxed muscle marking the left-handed helix of actin targets surrounding the thick filaments. These features observed in an averaged reconstruction encompassing nearly an entire myofibril indicate that the myosin heads, even in relaxed muscle, are in excellent helical register in the A-band.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Flight, Animal
  • Histological Techniques
  • Insecta
  • Microscopy, Electron / methods
  • Models, Structural
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / ultrastructure*
  • Muscles / ultrastructure*
  • Myosins / chemistry
  • Myosins / ultrastructure*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary


  • Myosins