We have developed a technique that allows mechanical and ligand-binding events in a single myosin molecule to be monitored simultaneously. We describe how steps in the ATPase reaction are temporally related to mechanical events at the single molecule level. The results show that the force generation does not always coincide with the release of bound nucleotide, presumably ADP. Instead the myosin head produces force several hundreds of milliseconds after bound nucleotide is released. This finding does not support the widely accepted view that force generation is directly coupled to the release of bound ligands. It suggests that myosin has a hysteresis or memory state, which stores chemical energy from ATP hydrolysis.
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