Observing cycling of a few cross-bridges during isometric contraction of skeletal muscle

P. Mettikolla, N. Calander, R. Luchowski, I. Gryczynski, Z. Gryczynski, J. Borejdo

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During muscle contraction a myosin cross-bridge imparts periodic force impulses to actin. It is possible to visualize those impulses by observing a few molecules of actin or myosin. We have followed the time course of orientation change of a few actin molecules during isometric contraction by measuring parallel polarized intensity of its fluorescence. The orientation of actin reflects local bending of a thin filament and is different when a cross-bridge binds to, or is detached from, F-actin. The changes in orientation were characterized by periods of activity during which myosin cross-bridges interacted normally with actin, interspersed with periods of inactivity during which actin and myosin were unable to interact. The periods of activity lasted on average 1.2 ± 0.4 s and were separated on average by 2.3 ± 1.0 s. During active period, actin orientation oscillated between the two extreme values with the ON and OFF times of 0.4 ± 0.2 and 0.7 ± 0.4 s, respectively. When the contraction was induced by a low concentration of ATP both active and inactive times were longer and approximately equal. These results imply that cross-bridges interact with actin in bursts and suggest that during active period, on average 36% of crossbridges are involved in force generation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-411
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


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