Volume 25 (2000) Issue 6 Pages 361-365
Atomic force microscopic images of single skeletal myofibrils showed periodical broad filamentous bands interspaced with narrow rigid bands corresponding to the sarcomere structures of skeletal muscle (Yoshikawa, Y., Yasuike, T., Yagi, A., and Yamada, T. 1999. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm., 256: 13-19). In order to identify the narrow rigid bands, comparative studies were made for intact single myofibrils and those treated with calcium-activated neutral protease by use of atomic force microscopy. It was found that (a) the periodical narrow rigid bands present in intact myofibrils were completely absent in myofibrils treated with calcium-activated neutral protease, and that (b) myofibrils treated with calcium-activated neutral protease were very fragile compared with intact myofibrils. As calcium-activated neutral protease selectively removes Z-bands of myofibrils (Reddy, M. K., Etlinger, J. D., Rabinowitz, M., Fischman, D. A., and Zak, R. 1975. J. Biol. Chem., 250: 4278-4284), these results clearly indicate that (a) the narrow rigid bands are the Z-bands, and that (b) the Z-bands are the essential disc supporting the sarcomere structure of skeletal muscle.