Twirling of Actin by Myosins II and V Observed via Polarized TIRF in a Modiﬁed Gliding Assay
The force generated between actin and myosin acts predominantly along the direction of the actin filament, resulting in relative sliding of the thick and thin filaments in muscle or transport of myosin cargos along actin tracks. Previous studies have also detected lateral forces or torques that are generated between actin and myosin, but the origin and biological role of these sideways forces is not known. Here we adapt an actin gliding filament assay in order to measure the rotation of an actin filament about its axis (“twirling”) as it is translocated by myosin. We quantify the rotation by determining the orientation of sparsely incorporated rhodamine-labeledactin monomers, using polarized total internal reflection (polTIRF) microscopy. In order to determine the handedness of the filament rotation, linear incident polarizations in between the standard s- and p-polarizations were generated, decreasing the ambiguity of our probe orientation measurement four-fold. We found that whole myosin II and myosin V both twirl actin with a relatively long (~ µm), left-handed pitch that is insensitive to myosin concentration, filament length and filament velocity.