Schmid, M.F., Matsudaira, P., Jeng, T.W., Jakana, J., Towns-Andrews, Elizabeth, Bordas, Joan and Chiu, W. (1991) Crystallographic analysis of acrosomal bundle from Limulus sperm. Journal of Molecular Biology, 221 (2). pp. 711-725. ISSN 0022-2836

The acrosomal process of Limulus sperm contains a bundle of filaments composed of actin and a 102 kDa protein in a 1:1 molar ratio. The structure of the bundle in true discharge was investigated by electron cryomicroscopy, X-ray scattering and crystallographic image analysis. A bundle can be characterized as a quasi-crystal with continuously varying views along the bundle axis. Each segment of the bundle is found to obey the symmetry of space group P1, with a = B = 147 Å, C = 762 Å, α = 90°, β = 90·6°, γ = 120°. A unit cell contains a helical repeat of the filament with a selection rule following that of an actin filament. A 24 Å projection map based on the h0l view was reconstructed after averaging 5300 unit cells from six electron images. Filaments in this projection are well separated and clearly display a 21 screw symmetry. This screw symmetry results from the helical parameters of the bundle filament and is found to be a non-crystallographic symmetry element present in the unit cell. Our structural analysis has led to the proposal that the assembly of a stable bundle with a defined maximum diameter can be controlled by the crystallographic packing of the twisted filaments.

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