Myosin is the chemomechanical energy transducer in striated heart muscle. The myosin cross-bridge applies impulsive force to actin while consuming ATP chemical energy to propel myosin thick filaments relative to actin thin filaments in the fiber. Transduction begins with ATP hydrolysis in the cross-bridge driving rotary movement of a lever arm converting torque into linear displacement. Myosin regulatory light chain (RLC) binds to the lever arm and modifies its ability to translate actin. Gene sequencing implicated several RLC mutations in heart disease, and three of them are investigated here using photoactivatable GFP-tagged RLC (RLC-PAGFP) exchanged into permeabilized papillary muscle fibers. A single-lever arm probe orientation is detected in the crowded environment of the muscle fiber by using RLC-PAGFP with dipole orientation deduced from the three-spatial dimension fluorescence emission pattern of the single molecule. Symmetry and selection rules locate dipoles in their half-sarcomere, identify those at the minimal free energy, and specify active dipole contraction intermediates. Experiments were performed in a microfluidic chamber designed for isometric contraction, total internal reflection fluorescence detection, and two-photon excitation second harmonic generation to evaluate sarcomere length. The RLC-PAGFP reports apparently discretized lever arm orientation intermediates in active isometric fibers that on average produce the stall force. Disease-linked mutants introduced into RLC move intermediate occupancy further down the free energy gradient, implying lever arms rotate more to reach stall force because mutant RLC increases lever arm shear strain. A lower free energy intermediate occupancy involves a lower energy conversion efficiency in the fiber relating a specific myosin function modification to the disease-implicated mutant.
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