Which protein makes up the thick filaments of a myofibril?

Which protein makes up the thick filaments of a myofibril?


The thick filaments of a myofibril are primarily composed of a protein called myosin. Myosin is a crucial component of muscle contraction and plays a vital role in the functioning of skeletal and cardiac muscles. In this article, we will explore the structure and function of myosin and its significance in muscle physiology.

Structure of Myosin

Myosin is a complex protein consisting of multiple subunits. Each myosin molecule is composed of two heavy chains and four light chains. The heavy chains form the backbone of the myosin molecule and are responsible for its structural integrity. The light chains, on the other hand, regulate the activity of myosin.

The heavy chains of myosin have a unique structure that includes a head region and a tail region. The head region contains the ATPase activity, which allows myosin to hydrolyze ATP and convert its energy into mechanical work. The tail region, on the other hand, is responsible for the assembly of myosin into thick filaments.

Function of Myosin

Myosin is the primary motor protein involved in muscle contraction. It interacts with another protein called actin, which forms the thin filaments of a myofibril. The interaction between myosin and actin is essential for the sliding filament theory of muscle contraction.

During muscle contraction, myosin binds to actin, forming cross-bridges. The ATPase activity of myosin hydrolyzes ATP, causing a conformational change in the myosin head. This conformational change results in the sliding of the thin filaments (actin) over the thick filaments (myosin), leading to muscle contraction.

The power stroke of myosin occurs when the myosin head releases the hydrolyzed phosphate and ADP molecules, resulting in a change in its position. This movement generates force and contributes to muscle contraction. The subsequent binding of a new ATP molecule to myosin causes the detachment of myosin from actin, allowing the cycle to repeat.

Significance of Myosin in Muscle Physiology

Myosin is crucial for the proper functioning of skeletal and cardiac muscles. It provides the force necessary for muscle contraction and enables various movements, from simple actions like walking to complex activities like weightlifting.

In addition to its role in muscle contraction, myosin also plays a role in muscle development and maintenance. It is involved in the formation and organization of sarcomeres, the basic contractile units of muscles. Without myosin, the proper structure and function of muscles would be compromised.

Furthermore, mutations in myosin genes can lead to various muscle disorders and diseases. For example, mutations in the MYH7 gene, which encodes a specific type of myosin heavy chain, are associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition characterized by abnormal thickening of the heart muscle.


The thick filaments of a myofibril are primarily composed of the protein myosin. Myosin is a complex protein with a unique structure, consisting of heavy chains and light chains. It plays a crucial role in muscle contraction by interacting with actin and generating the force necessary for movement. Myosin is essential for muscle physiology, development, and maintenance. Understanding the structure and function of myosin provides insights into the mechanisms underlying muscle contraction and related disorders.


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