Force produced after stretch in sarcomeres and half-sarcomeres isolated from skeletal muscles.
ABSTRACT: The goal of this study was to evaluate if isolated sarcomeres and half-sarcomeres produce a long-lasting increase in force after a stretch is imposed during activation. Single and half-sarcomeres were isolated from myofibrils using micro-needles, which were also used for force measurements. After full force development, both preparations were stretched by different magnitudes. The sarcomere length (SL) or half-sarcomere length variations (HSL) were extracted by measuring the initial and final distances from the Z-line to the adjacent Z-line or to a region externally adjacent to the M-line of the sarcomere, respectively. Half-sarcomeres generated approximately the same amount of isometric force (29.0 ± SD 15.5?nN·?m(-2)) as single sarcomeres (32.1 ± SD 15.3?nN·?m(-2)) when activated. In both cases, the steady-state forces after stretch were higher than the forces during isometric contractions at similar conditions. The results suggest that stretch-induced force enhancement is partly caused by proteins within the half-sarcomere.
Project description:A skeletal muscle fiber that is stimulated to contract and then stretched from L? to L? produces more force after the initial transient decays than if it is stimulated at L?. This behavior has been well studied experimentally, and is known as residual force enhancement. The underlying mechanism remains controversial. We hypothesized that residual force enhancement could reflect mechanical interactions between heterogeneous half-sarcomeres. To test this hypothesis, we subjected a computational model of interacting heterogeneous half-sarcomeres to the same activation and stretch protocols that produce residual force enhancement in real preparations. Following a transient period of elevated force associated with active stretching, the model predicted a slowly decaying force enhancement lasting >30 seconds after stretch. Enhancement was on the order of 13% above isometric tension at the post-stretch muscle length, which agrees well with experimental measurements. Force enhancement in the model was proportional to stretch magnitude but did not depend strongly on the velocity of stretch, also in agreement with experiments. Even small variability in the strength of half-sarcomeres (2.1% standard deviation, normally distributed) was sufficient to produce a 5% force enhancement over isometric tension. Analysis of the model suggests that heterogeneity in half-sarcomeres leads to residual force enhancement by storing strain energy introduced during active stretch in distributions of bound cross-bridges. Complex interactions between the heterogeneous half-sarcomeres then dissipate this stored energy at a rate much slower than isolated cross-bridges would cycle. Given the variations in half-sarcomere length that have been observed in real muscle preparations and the stochastic variability inherent in all biological systems, half-sarcomere heterogeneity cannot be excluded as a contributing source of residual force enhancement.
Project description:Most reductionist theories of muscle attribute a fiber's mechanical properties to the scaled behavior of a single half-sarcomere. Mathematical models of this type can explain many of the known mechanical properties of muscle but have to incorporate a passive mechanical component that becomes approximately 300% stiffer in activating conditions to reproduce the force response elicited by stretching a fast mammalian muscle fiber. The available experimental data suggests that titin filaments, which are the mostly likely source of the passive component, become at most approximately 30% stiffer in saturating Ca2+ solutions. The work described in this manuscript used computer modeling to test an alternative systems theory that attributes the stretch response of a mammalian fiber to the composite behavior of a collection of half-sarcomeres. The principal finding was that the stretch response of a chemically permeabilized rabbit psoas fiber could be reproduced with a framework consisting of 300 half-sarcomeres arranged in 6 parallel myofibrils without requiring titin filaments to stiffen in activating solutions. Ablation of inter-myofibrillar links in the computer simulations lowered isometric force values and lowered energy absorption during a stretch. This computed behavior mimics effects previously observed in experiments using muscles from desmin-deficient mice in which the connections between Z-disks in adjacent myofibrils are presumably compromised. The current simulations suggest that muscle fibers exhibit emergent properties that reflect interactions between half-sarcomeres and are not properties of a single half-sarcomere in isolation. It is therefore likely that full quantitative understanding of a fiber's mechanical properties requires detailed analysis of a complete fiber system and cannot be achieved by focusing solely on the properties of a single half-sarcomere.
Project description:It has been accepted that the force produced by a skeletal muscle myofibril depends on its cross-sectional area but not on the number of active sarcomeres because they are arranged in series. However, a previous study performed by our group showed that blocking actomyosin interactions within an activated myofibril and depleting the thick filaments in one sarcomere unexpectedly reduced force production. In this study, we examined in detail how consecutive depletion of thick filaments in individual sarcomeres within a myofibril affects force production. Myofibrils isolated from rabbit psoas were activated and relaxed using a perfusion system. An extra microperfusion needle filled with a high-ionic strength solution was used to erase thick filaments in individual sarcomeres in real time before myofibril activation. The isometric forces were measured upon activation. The force produced by myofibrils with intact sarcomeres was significantly higher than the force produced by myofibrils with one or more sarcomeres lacking thick filaments (p < 0.0001) irrespective of the number of contractions imposed on the myofibrils and their initial sarcomere length. Our results suggest that the myofibril force is affected by intersarcomere dynamics and the number of active sarcomeres in series.
Project description:The mechanisms behind the shortening-induced force depression commonly observed in skeletal muscles remain unclear, but have been associated with sarcomere length non-uniformity and/or crossbridge inhibition. The purpose of this study was twofold: (i) to evaluate if force depression is present in isolated single sarcomeres, a preparation that eliminates sarcomere length non-uniformities and (ii) to evaluate if force depression is inhibited when single sarcomeres are activated with MgADP, which biases crossbridges into a strongly-bound state. Single sarcomeres (n = 16) were isolated from rabbit psoas myofibrils using two micro-needles (one compliant, one rigid), piercing the sarcomere externally adjacent to the Z-lines. The sarcomeres were contracted isometrically and subsequently shortened, in both Ca(2+)- and MgADP-activating solutions. Shortening in Ca(2+)-activated samples resulted in a 27.44 ± 9.04% force depression when compared to isometric contractions produced at similar final sarcomere lengths (P < 0.001). There was no force depression in MgADP-activated sarcomeres (force depression = -1.79 ± 9.69%, P = 0.435). These results suggest that force depression is a sarcomeric property, and that is associated with an inhibition of myosin-actin interactions.
Project description:The sarcomere length non-uniformity theory (SLNT) is a widely accepted explanation for residual force enhancement (RFE). RFE is the increase in steady-state isometric force following active muscle stretching. The SLNT predicts that active stretching of a muscle causes sarcomere lengths (SL) to become non-uniform, with some sarcomeres stretched beyond actin-myosin filament overlap (popping), causing RFE. Despite being widely known, this theory has never been directly tested. We performed experiments on isolated rabbit muscle myofibrils (n?=?12) comparing SL non-uniformities for purely isometric reference contractions (I-state) and contractions following active stretch producing RFE (FE-state). Myofibrils were activated isometrically along the descending limb of the force-length relationship (mean?±?1 standard deviation (SD)?=?2.8?±?0.3?µm sarcomere(-1)). Once the I-state was reached, myofibrils were shortened to an SL on the plateau of the force-length relationship (2.4?µm sarcomere(-1)), and then were actively stretched to the reference length (2.9?±?0.3?µm sarcomere(-1)). We observed RFE in all myofibrils (39?±?15%), and saw varying amounts of non-uniformity (1 SD?=?0.9?±?0.5?µm) that was not significantly correlated with the amount of RFE, but through pairwise comparisons was found to be significantly greater than the non-uniformity measured for the I-state (0.7?±?0.4?µm). Three myofibrils exhibited no increase in non-uniformity. Active stretching was accompanied by sarcomere popping in four myofibrils, and seven had popped sarcomeres in the I-state. These results suggest that, while non-uniformities are present with RFE, they are also present in the I-state. Furthermore, non-uniformity is not associated with the magnitude of RFE, and myofibrils that had no increase in non-uniformity with stretch still showed normal RFE. Therefore, it appears that SL non-uniformity is a normal associate of muscle contraction, but does not contribute to RFE following active stretching of isolated skeletal muscle myofibrils.
Project description:The force generation and motion of muscle are produced by the collective work of thousands of sarcomeres, the basic structural units of striated muscle. Based on their series connection to form a myofibril, it is expected that sarcomeres are mechanically and/or structurally coupled to each other. However, the behavior of individual sarcomeres and the coupling dynamics between sarcomeres remain elusive, because muscle mechanics has so far been investigated mainly by analyzing the averaged behavior of thousands of sarcomeres in muscle fibers. In this study, we directly measured the length-responses of individual sarcomeres to quick stretch at partial activation, using micromanipulation of skeletal myofibrils under a phase-contrast microscope. The experiments were performed at ADP-activation (1 mM MgATP and 2 mM MgADP in the absence of Ca(2+)) and also at Ca(2+)-activation (1 mM MgATP at pCa 6.3) conditions. We show that under these activation conditions, sarcomeres exhibit 2 distinct types of responses, either "resisting" or "yielding," which are clearly distinguished by the lengthening distance of single sarcomeres in response to stretch. These 2 types of sarcomeres tended to coexist within the myofibril, and the sarcomere "yielding" occurred in clusters composed of several adjacent sarcomeres. The labeling of Z-line with anti-alpha-actinin antibody significantly suppressed the clustered sarcomere "yielding." These results strongly suggest that the contractile system of muscle possesses the mechanism of structure-based inter-sarcomere coordination.
Project description:Experiments have shown that the relaxation phase of cardiac sarcomeres during an isometric twitch is prolonged in muscles that reached a higher peak tension. However, the mechanism is not completely understood. We hypothesize that the binding of calcium to troponin is enhanced by the tension in the thin filament, thus contributing to the prolongation of contraction upon higher peak tension generation. To test this hypothesis, we developed a computational model of sarcomere mechanics that incorporates tension-dependence of calcium binding. The model was used to simulate isometric twitch experiments with time dependency in the form of a two-state cross-bridge cycle model and a transient intracellular calcium concentration. In the simulations, peak isometric twitch tension appeared to increase linearly by 51.1 KPa with sarcomere length from 1.9 ?m to 2.2 ?m. Experiments showed an increase of 47.3 KPa over the same range of sarcomere lengths. The duration of the twitch also increased with both sarcomere length and peak intracellular calcium concentration, likely to be induced by the inherently coupled increase of the peak tension in the thin filament. In the model simulations, the time to 50% relaxation (tR50) increased over the range of sarcomere lengths from 1.9 ?m to 2.2 ?m by 0.11s, comparable to the increased duration of 0.12s shown in experiments. Model simulated tR50 increased by 0.12s over the range of peak intracellular calcium concentrations from 0.87 ?M to 1.45 ?M. Our simulation results suggest that the prolongation of contraction at higher tension is a result of the tighter binding of Ca2+ to troponin in areas under higher tension, thus delaying the deactivation of the troponin.
Project description:The sarcomere force-length relationship has been extensively used to predict muscle force potential. The common practice is to measure the mean sarcomere length (SL) in a relaxed muscle at a single location and at a given length, and this mean SL is assumed to represent the SLs at other locations across the muscle. However, in a previous study, we found that SLs are highly non-uniform across an intact passive muscle. Moreover, SL non-uniformity increases during activation in single myofibril experiments. Myofibrils lack some structural proteins that comprise an intact muscle, and therefore, the increased SL dispersion upon activation seen in myofibrils may not occur in intact whole muscle. The objectives of the current study were (i) to measure the distribution of SLs in an activated intact muscle; and (ii) to assess the feasibility of using the mean SL measured at a specific location of the muscle to predict muscle force. Using state-of-the-art multi-photon microscopy and a miniature tendon force transducer, in vivo sarcomeres in the mouse tibialis anterior were imaged simultaneously with muscle force during isometric tetanic contractions. We found that in vivo SL dispersion increased substantially during activation and reached average differences of ~1.0 ?m. These differences in SL are associated with theoretical force differences of 70-100% of the maximal isometric force. Furthermore, SLs measured at a single location in the passive muscle were poor predictors of active force potential. Although mean SLs in the activated muscle were better predictors of force potential, predicted forces still differed by as much as 35% from the experimentally measured maximal isometric forces.
Project description:In crayfish claw closer muscle, the giant sarcomeres are 8.3 microm long at rest, four times longer than vertebrate striated muscle sarcomeres, and they are extensible up to 13 microm upon stretch. Invertebrate connectin (I-connectin) is an elastic protein which holds the A band at the center of the sarcomere. The entire sequence of crayfish I-connectin was predicted from cDNA sequences of 53 424 bp (17 352 residues; 1960 kDa). Crayfish I-connectin contains two novel 68- and 71-residue repeats, and also two PEVK domains and one kettin region. Kettin is a small isoform of I-connectin. Immunoblot tests using antibody to the 68-residue repeats revealed the presence of I-connectin also in long sarcomeres of insect leg muscle and barnacle ventral muscle. Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated that the two repeats, the long spacer and the two PEVK domains contribute to sarcomere extension. These regions rich in charged amino acids, occupying 63% of the crayfish I-connectin molecule, may allow a span of a 3.5 microm distance as a new class of composite spring.
Project description:The seemingly uniform striation pattern of skeletal muscles, quantified in terms of sarcomere lengths (SLs), is inherently non-uniform across all hierarchical levels. The SL non-uniformity theory has been used to explain the force creep in isometric contractions, force depression following shortening of activated muscle, and residual force enhancement following lengthening of activated muscle. Our understanding of sarcomere contraction dynamics has been derived primarily from in vitro experiments using regular bright-field light microscopy or laser diffraction techniques to measure striation/diffraction patterns in isolated muscle fibers or myofibrils. However, the collagenous extracellular matrices present around the muscle fibers, as well as the complex architecture in the whole muscles may lead to different contraction dynamics of sarcomeres than seen in the in vitro studies. Here, we used multi-photon excitation microscopy to visualize in situ individual sarcomeres in intact muscle tendon units (MTUs) of mouse tibialis anterior (TA), and quantified the temporal changes of SL distribution as a function of SLs in relaxed and maximally activated muscles for quasi-steady state, fixed-end isometric conditions. The corresponding muscle forces were simultaneously measured using a force transducer. We found that SL non-uniformity, quantified by the coefficient of variation (CV) of SLs, decreased at a rate of 1.9-3.1%/s in the activated muscles, but remained constant in the relaxed muscles. The force loss during the quasi-steady state likely did not play a role in the decrease of SL non-uniformity, as similar force losses were found in the activated and relaxed muscles, but the CV of SLs in the relaxed muscles underwent negligible change over time. We conclude that sarcomeres in the mid-belly of maximally contracting whole muscles constantly re-organize their lengths into a more uniform pattern over time. The molecular mechanisms accounting for SL non-uniformity appear to differ in active and passive muscles, and need further elucidation, as do the functional implications of the SL non-uniformity.