I-band titin in cardiac muscle is a three-element molecular spring and is critical for maintaining thin filament structure

Wolfgang A. Linke, Diane E. Rudy, Thomas Centner, Mathias Gautel, Christian Witt, Siegfried Labeit, Carol C. Gregorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


In cardiac muscle, the giant protein titin exists in different length isoforms expressed in the molecule's I-band region. Both isoforms, termed N2- A and N2-B, comprise stretches of Ig-like modules separated by the PEVK domain. Central I-band titin also contains isoform-specific Ig-motifs and nonmodular sequences, notably a longer insertion in N2-B. We investigates file elastic behavior of the I-band isoforms by using single-myofibril mechanics, immunofluorescence microscopy, and immunoelectron microscopy of rabbit cardiac sarcomeres stained with sequence-assigned antibodies. Moreover, we overexpressed constructs from the N2-B region in chick cardiac cells to search for possible structural properties of this cardiac-specific segment. We found that cardiac titin contains three distinct elastic elements: poly-Ig regions, the PEVK domain, and the N2-B sequence insertion, which extends ~60 nm at high physiological stretch. Recruitment of all three elements allows cardiac titin to extend fully reversibly at physiological sarcomere lengths, without the need to unfold Ig domains. Overexpressing the entire N2-B region or its NH2 terminus in cardiac myocytes greatly disrupted thin filament, but not thick filament structure. Our results strongly suggest that the NH2-terminal N2-B domains are necessary to stabilize thin filament integrity. N2-B-titin emerges as a unique region critical for both reversible extensibility and structural maintenance of cardiac myofibrils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-644
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 9 1999


  • Connectin
  • Elasticity
  • Heart muscle
  • Sarcomere
  • Transfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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