The structural analysis of large protein complexes has been greatly enhanced through the application of electron microscopy techniques. One such multiprotein complex, the cardiac thin filament (cTF), has cyclic interactions with thick filament proteins to drive contraction of the heart that has recently been the subject of such studies. As important as these studies are, they provide limited or no information on highly flexible regions that in isolation would be characterized as inherently disordered. One such region is the extended cardiac troponin T (cTnT) linker between the regions of cTnT which have been labeled TNT1 and TNT2. It comprises a hinge region (residues 158-166) and a highly flexible region (residues 167-203). Critically, this region modulates the troponin/tropomyosin complex's position across the actin filament. Thus, the cTnT linker structure and dynamics are central to the regulation of the function of cardiac muscles, but up to now, it was ill-understood. To establish the cTnT linker structure, we coupled an atomistic computational cTF model with time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements in both ±Ca2+conditions utilizing fully reconstituted cTFs. We mapped the cTnT linker's positioning across the actin filament, and by coupling the experimental results to computation, we found mean structures and ranges of motion of this part of the complex. With this new insight, we can now address cTnT linker structural dynamics in both myofilament activation and disease.
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