Mutations in the thick filament associated protein cardiac myosin binding protein-C (cMyBP-C) are a major cause of familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Although cMyBP-C is thought to play both a structural and a regulatory role in the contraction of cardiac muscle, detailed information about the role of this protein in stability of the thick filament and maintenance of the ordered helical arrangement of the myosin cross-bridges is limited. To address these questions, the structure of myosin thick filaments isolated from the hearts of wild-type mice containing cMyBP-C (cMyBP-C+/+) were compared to those of cMyBP-C knockout mice lacking this protein (cMyBp-C-/-). The filaments from the knockout mice hearts lacking cMyBP-C are stable and similar in length and appearance to filaments from the wild-type mice hearts containing cMyBP-C. Both wild-type and many of the cMyBP-C-/- filaments display a distinct 43 nm periodicity. Fourier transforms of electron microscope images typically show helical layer lines to the sixth layer line, confirming the well-ordered arrangement of the cross-bridges in both sets of filaments. However, the "forbidden" meridional reflections, thought to derive from a perturbation from helical symmetry in the wild-type filament, are weaker or absent in the transforms of the cMyBP-C-+- myocardial thick filaments. In addition, the cross-bridge array in the absence of cMyBP-C appears more easily disordered.
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