The suppression of tension development by orthovanadate (Vi) was studied in mechanical experiments and by measuring the binding of radioactive Vi and nucleotides to glycerol-extracted rabbit muscle fibers. During active contractions, Vi bound to the cross-bridges and suppressed tension with an apparent second-order rate constant of 1.34 X 10(3) M-1s-1. The half-saturation concentration for tension suppression was 94 microM Vi. The incubation of fibers in Vi relaxing or rigor solutions prior to initiation of active contractions had little effect on the initial rise of active tension. The addition of adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and Vi to fibers in rigor did not cause relaxation. Suppression of tension only developed during cross-bridge cycling. After slow relaxation from rigor in 1 mM Vi and low (50 microM) MgATP concentration (0 Ca2+), radioactive Vi and ADP were trapped within the fiber. This finding indicated the formation of a stable myosin X ADP X Vi complex, as has been reported in biochemical experiments with isolated myosin. Vi and ADP trapped within the fibers were released only by subsequent cross-bridge attachment. Vi and ADP were preferentially trapped under conditions of cross-bridge cycling in the presence of ATP rather than in relaxed fibers or in rigor with ADP. These results indicate that in the normal cross-bridge cycle, inorganic phosphate (Pi) is released from actomyosin before ADP. The resulting actomyosin X ADP intermediate can bind Vi and Pi. This intermediate probably supports force. Vi behaves as a close analogue of Pi in muscle fibers, as it does with isolated actomyosin.

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