Myosins are molecular motors that interact with actin to generate force and movement. Smooth muscle myosin (SMM), found predominantly in smooth muscle cells, is required for their contraction. It has long been assumed that this myosin is able to exist in either a switched off inactive state or in an active filamentous state, and that it can cycle between these states depending on the level of activation of the muscle. However, it is still unclear how this happens, how much myosin is in these two states, how the contractile cytoskeleton is organised and responds to cell extension, and the role of smoothelin and smoothelin like proteins in this process. This is important to understand as mutations in SMM cause diseases such as aortic aneurysms.
To address better understand SMM filament assembly and disassembly I will use a combination of EM and CryoEM approaches.