Smitin, a Novel Smooth Muscle Titin-like Protein, Interacts with Myosin Filaments in vivo and in vitro


Smooth muscle cells use an actin–myosin II-based contractile apparatus to produce force for a variety of physiological functions, including blood pressure regulation and gut peristalsis. The organization of the smooth muscle contractile apparatus resembles that of striated skeletal and cardiac muscle, but remains much more poorly understood. We have found that avian vascular and visceral smooth muscles contain a novel, megadalton protein, smitin, that is similar to striated muscle titin in molecular morphology, localization in a contractile apparatus, and ability to interact with myosin filaments. Smitin, like titin, is a long fibrous molecule with a globular domain on one end. Specific reactivities of an anti-smitin polyclonal antibody and an anti-titin monoclonal antibody suggest that smitin and titin are distinct proteins rather than differentially spliced isoforms encoded by the same gene. Smitin immunofluorescently colocalizes with myosin in chicken gizzard smooth muscle, and interacts with two configurations of smooth muscle myosin filaments in vitro. In physiological ionic strength conditions, smitin and smooth muscle myosin coassemble into irregular aggregates containing large sidepolar myosin filaments. In low ionic strength conditions, smitin and smooth muscle myosin form highly ordered structures containing linear and polygonal end-to-end and side-by-side arrays of small bipolar myosin filaments. We have used immunogold localization and sucrose density gradient cosedimentation analyses to confirm association of smitin with both the sidepolar and bipolar smooth muscle myosin filaments. These findings suggest that the titin-like protein smitin may play a central role in organizing myosin filaments in the contractile apparatus and perhaps in other structures in smooth muscle cells.



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The Journal of cell biology