We have used electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectra to study spin labels selectively and rigidly attached to myosin heads in glycerinated rabbit psoas muscle fibers. Because the angle between the magnetic field and the principal axis of the probe determines the position of the EPR absorption line, spectra from labeled fibers oriented parallel to the magnetic field yielded directly the distribution of spin label orientations relative to the fiber axis. Two spin labels, having reactivities resembling iodoacetamide (IASL) and maleimide (MSL), were used. In rigor fibers with complete filament overlap, both labels displayed a narrow angular distribution, full width at half maximum approximately 15 degrees, centered at angles of 68 degrees (IASL) and 82 degrees (MSL). Myosin subfragments (heavy meromyosin and subfragment-1) were labeled and allowed to diffuse into fibers. The resulting spectra showed the same sharp angular distribution that was found for the labeled fibers. Thus is appears that virtually all myosin heads in a rigor fiber have the same orientation relative to the fiber axis, and this orientation is determined by the actomyosin bond. Experiments with stretched fibers indicated that the spin labels on the fraction of heads not interacting with actin filaments had a broad angular distribution. Addition of ATP to unstretched fibers under relaxing conditions produced orientational disorder, resulting in a spectrum almost indistinguishable from that of an isotropic distribution of probes. Addition of either an ATP analog (AMPPNP) or pyrophosphate produced partial disorder. That is a fraction of the probes remained sharply oriented as in rigor while a second fraction was in a disordered distribution similar to that of relaxed fibers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank J. Gergely, J. C. Seidel, R. A. Mendelson, and R. T. Tregear for helpful discussions. We thank K. Franks and V. A. Barnett for technical assistance. This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation (PCM 80-04512), Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Minnesota Medical Foundation. Receivedfor publication II June 1980 and in revisedform 13 August 1980.