The Structural Basis of Muscular Contraction by John Squire

By John Squire

Muscular contraction presents probably the most attention-grabbing issues for a biophysicist to review. even though muscle contains a molecular computing device wherein chemical power is switched over to mechanical paintings, its motion in generating strength is whatever that's simply observable in way of life, a characteristic that doesn't observe to so much different constructions of biophysical inter­ est. additionally, muscle is so fantastically geared up on the microscopic point that these vital structural probes, electron microscopy (with the linked snapshot research tools) and X-ray diffraction, have seasoned­ vided a wealth of knowledge concerning the preparations of the constituent proteins in quite a few muscle forms. yet, regardless of all this, the reply to the query "How does muscle work?" remains to be doubtful, specially with reference to the molecular occasions wherein strength is admittedly generated, and the query is still one of many significant unsolved difficulties in biology. With this challenge in brain, this e-book has been written to gather jointly the on hand proof at the constructions of the muscle fila­ ments and on their preparations in numerous muscle cells, to extract the typical structural gains of those cells, and hence to try to outline a potential sequence of mechanical steps that might describe at molecular resolu­ tion the method during which strength is generated. The publication can't be thought of to be an introductory textual content; actually, it offers a truly unique account of muscle constitution as gleaned normally from electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction.

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One of the main reasons for this is that different muscles contain varying proportions of individual fiber types that have distinct properties. Not all fibers in a particular muscle are identical in structure or in contractile behavior, and certain characteristic fiber types can be identified. , fibers can be distinguished by whether their energy supply is largely glycolytic or is dominated by the mitochondria. Generally the glycolytic fibers are relatively fast in contractile response, and they appear white, whereas fibers that have an abundance of mitochondria are said to be oxidative, they are relatively slow in contractile response, and they appear reddish in color because of the presence of the oxygen carrier myoglobin.

Aequorin, which can be isolated from a bioluminescent jellyfish, has the property of emitting light as a burst the duration of which depends on the concentration of calcium ions. Electrical stimulation of the barnacle fibers containing aequorin caused the emission of a small but detectable amount of light, as illustrated in Fig. 24. 24. Calcium transients in Balanus muscle fibers measured by the aequorin technique: (a) membrane potential; (b) variation in calcium level; (c) tension trace; (d) duration of stimulus.

20). , uterine muscle), by the action of particular hormones. Indeed, the smooth muscle in the vas deferens does not exhibit spontaneous activity at all and is totally controlled by the extrinsic nerves. In vitro, spontaneous activity in smooth muscles can be suppressed by the action of certain drugs or by reduction of the temperature of the muscle from its in vivo level (usually 37°C) to about 10-15°C. As detailed in Chapter 8, this property has important uses in the study of the smooth muscle contractile apparatus.

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