myosin (mĪˈəsĭn) [key], one of the two major protein constituents responsible for contraction of muscle. In muscle cells myosin is arranged in long filaments called thick filaments that lie parallel to the microfilaments of actin. In muscle contraction, filaments of actin alternately chemically link and unlink with those of myosin in a creeping or sliding action. The energy for this reaction is supplied by adenosine triphosphate. Myosin and actin also function in the motility of diverse non-muscle cells. In slime molds, for example, although present in much smaller quantities and forming shorter filaments, the interaction of the two proteins is employed to change cell shape and permit some movements.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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