The elastic properties of nebulin were studied by measuring the elasticity of single skeletal myofibrils, from which the portion of the thin filament located at the I band had been selectively removed by treatment with plasma gelsolin under rigor conditions. In this myofibril model, a portion of each nebulin molecule at the I band was expected to be free of actin filaments and exposed. The length of the exposed portion of the nebulin molecule was controlled by performing the gelsolin treatment at various sarcomere lengths. The relation between the passive tension and extension of the exposed portion of the nebulin showed a convex curve starting from a slack length, apparently in a fashion similar to that of wool. The slack sarcomere length shifted depending on the length of the exposed portion of the nebulin, however, the relation being represented by a single master curve. The elastic modulus of nebulin was estimated to be two to three orders of magnitude smaller than that of an actin filament. Based on these results, we conclude that nebulin attaches to an actin filament in a side-by-side fashion and that it does not significantly contribute to the elastic modulus of thin filaments. The relation between the passive tension and extension of connectin (titin) was obtained for a myofibril from which thin filaments had been completely removed with gelsolin under contracting conditions; this showed a concave curve, consistent with the previous results obtained in single fibers.
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