A stochastic simulation of skeletal muscle calcium transients in a structurally realistic sarcomere model using MCell.
ABSTRACT: Skeletal muscle contraction is initiated when an action potential triggers the release of Ca2+ into the sarcomere in a process referred to as excitation-contraction coupling. The speed and scale of this process makes direct observation very challenging and invasive. To determine how the concentration of Ca2+ changes within the myofibril during a single activation, several simulation models have been developed. These models follow a common pattern; divide the half sarcomere into a series of compartments, then use ordinary differential equations to solve reactions occurring within and between the compartments. To further develop this type of simulation, we have created a realistic structural model of a skeletal muscle myofibrillar half-sarcomere using MCell software that incorporates the myofilament lattice structure. Using this simulation model, we were successful in reproducing the averaged calcium transient during a single activation consistent with both the experimental and previous simulation results. In addition, our simulation demonstrated that the inclusion of the myofilament lattice within our model produced an asymmetric distribution of Ca2+, with more Ca2+ accumulating near the Z-disk and less Ca2+ reaching the m-line. This asymmetric distribution of Ca2+ is also apparent when we examine how the Ca2+ are bound to the troponin-C proteins along the actin filaments. Our simulation model also allowed us to produce advanced visualizations of this process, including two simulation animations, allowing us to view Ca2+ release, diffusion, binding and uptake within the myofibrillar half-sarcomere.
Project description:The demembranated (skinned) muscle fiber preparation is widely used to investigate muscle contraction because the intracellular ionic conditions can be precisely controlled. However, plasma membrane removal results in a loss of osmotic regulation, causing abnormal hydration of the myofilament lattice and its proteins. We investigated the structural and functional consequences of varied myofilament lattice spacing and protein hydration on cross-bridge rates of force development and detachment in Drosophila melanogaster indirect flight muscle, using x-ray diffraction to compare the lattice spacing of dissected, osmotically compressed skinned fibers to native muscle fibers in living flies. Osmolytes of different sizes and exclusion properties (Dextran T-500 and T-10) were used to differentially alter lattice spacing and protein hydration. At in vivo lattice spacing, cross-bridge attachment time (t(on)) increased with higher osmotic pressures, consistent with a reduced cross-bridge detachment rate as myofilament protein hydration decreased. In contrast, in the swollen lattice, t(on) decreased with higher osmotic pressures. These divergent responses were reconciled using a structural model that predicts t(on) varies inversely with thick-to-thin filament surface distance, suggesting that cross-bridge rates of force development and detachment are modulated more by myofilament lattice geometry than protein hydration. Generalizing these findings, our results suggest that cross-bridge cycling rates slow as thick-to-thin filament surface distance decreases with sarcomere lengthening, and likewise, cross-bridge cycling rates increase during sarcomere shortening. Together, these structural changes may provide a mechanism for altering cross-bridge performance throughout a contraction-relaxation cycle.
Project description:Muscle contraction results from cyclic interactions between myosin II motors and actin with two sets of proteins organized in overlapping thick and thin filaments, respectively, in a nearly crystalline lattice in a muscle sarcomere. However, a sarcomere contains a huge number of other proteins, some with important roles in muscle contraction. In particular, these include thin filament proteins, troponin and tropomyosin; thick filament proteins, myosin binding protein C; and the elastic protein, titin, that connects the thin and thick filaments. Furthermore, the order and 3D organization of the myofilament lattice may be important per se for contractile function. It is possible to model muscle contraction based on actin and myosin alone with properties derived in studies using single molecules and biochemical solution kinetics. It is also possible to reproduce several features of muscle contraction in experiments using only isolated actin and myosin, arguing against the importance of order and accessory proteins. Therefore, in this paper, it is hypothesized that "single molecule actomyosin properties account for the contractile properties of a half sarcomere during shortening and isometric contraction at almost saturating Ca concentrations". In this paper, existing evidence for and against this hypothesis is reviewed and new modeling results to support the arguments are presented. Finally, further experimental tests are proposed, which if they corroborate, at least approximately, the hypothesis, should significantly benefit future effective analysis of a range of experimental studies, as well as drug discovery efforts.
Project description:We use the inhibitor of isometric force of skeletal muscle N-benzyl-p-toluene sulfonamide (BTS) to decrease, in a dose dependent way, the number of myosin motors attached to actin during the steady isometric contraction of single fibers from frog skeletal muscle (4 degrees C, 2.1 microm sarcomere length). In this way we can reduce the strain in the myofilament compliance during the isometric tetanus (T(0)) from 3.54 nm in the control solution (T(0,NR)) to approximately 0.5 nm in 1 microM BTS, where T(0) is reduced to approximately 0.15 T(0,NR). The quick force recovery after a step release (1-3 nm per half-sarcomere) becomes faster with the increase of BTS concentration and the decrease of T(0). The simulation of quick force recovery with a multistate model of force generation, that adapts Huxley and Simmons model to account for both the high stiffness of the myosin motor (approximately 3 pN/nm) and the myofilament compliance, shows that the increase in the rate of quick force recovery by BTS is explained by the reduced strain in the myofilaments, consequent to the decrease in half-sarcomere force. The model estimates that i), for the same half-sarcomere release the state transition kinetics in the myosin motor are five times faster in the absence of filament compliance than in the control; and ii), the rate of force recovery from zero to T(0) is approximately 6000/s in the absence of filament compliance.
Project description:Background: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common inherited cardiac muscle disease with left ventricular hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction. Increased myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity could be the underlying cause of diastolic dysfunction. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCg), a catechin found in green tea, has been reported to decrease myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity in HCM models with troponin mutations. However, whether this is also the case for HCM-associated thick filament mutations is not known. Therefore, we evaluated whether EGCg affects the behavior of cardiomyocytes and myofilaments of an HCM mouse model carrying a gene mutation in cardiac myosin-binding protein C and exhibiting both increased myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity and diastolic dysfunction. Methods and Results: Acute effects of EGCg were tested on fractional sarcomere shortening and Ca2+ transients in intact ventricular myocytes and on force-Ca2+ relationship of skinned ventricular muscle strips isolated from Mybpc3-targeted knock-in (KI) and wild-type (WT) mice. Fractional sarcomere shortening and Ca2+ transients were analyzed at 37°C under 1-Hz pacing in the absence or presence of EGCg (1.8 ?M). At baseline and in the absence of Fura-2, KI cardiomyocytes displayed lower diastolic sarcomere length, higher fractional sarcomere shortening, longer time to peak shortening and time to 50% relengthening than WT cardiomyocytes. In WT and KI neither diastolic sarcomere length nor fractional sarcomere shortening were influenced by EGCg treatment, but relaxation time was reduced, to a greater extent in KI cells. EGCg shortened time to peak Ca2+ and Ca2+ transient decay in Fura-2-loaded WT and KI cardiomyocytes. EGCg did not influence phosphorylation of phospholamban. In skinned cardiac muscle strips, EGCg (30 ?M) decreased Ca2+ sensitivity in both groups. Conclusion: EGCg hastened relaxation and Ca2+ transient decay to a larger extent in KI than in WT cardiomyocytes. This effect could be partially explained by myofilament Ca2+ desensitization.
Project description:Contractile function of cardiac cells is driven by the sliding displacement of myofilaments powered by the cycling myosin crossbridges. Critical to this process is the availability of ATP, which myosin hydrolyzes during the cross-bridge cycle. The diffusion of adenine nucleotides through the myofilament lattice has been shown to be anisotropic, with slower radial diffusion perpendicular to the filament axis relative to parallel, and is attributed to the periodic hexagonal arrangement of the thin (actin) and thick (myosin) filaments. We investigated whether atomistic-resolution details of myofilament proteins can refine coarse-grain estimates of diffusional anisotropy for adenine nucleotides in the cardiac myofibril, using homogenization theory and atomistic thin filament models from the Protein Data Bank. Our results demonstrate considerable anisotropy in ATP and ADP diffusion constants that is consistent with experimental measurements and dependent on lattice spacing and myofilament overlap. A reaction-diffusion model of the half-sarcomere further suggests that diffusional anisotropy may lead to modest adenine nucleotide gradients in the myoplasm under physiological conditions.
Project description:RATIONALE:Subcellular Ca2+ indicators have yet to be developed for the myofilament where disease mutation or small molecules may alter contractility through myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity. Here, we develop and characterize genetically encoded Ca2+ indicators restricted to the myofilament to directly visualize Ca2+ changes in the sarcomere. OBJECTIVE:To produce and validate myofilament-restricted Ca2+ imaging probes in an adenoviral transduction adult cardiomyocyte model using drugs that alter myofilament function (MYK-461, omecamtiv mecarbil, and levosimendan) or following cotransduction of 2 established hypertrophic cardiomyopathy disease-causing mutants (cTnT [Troponin T] R92Q and cTnI [Troponin I] R145G) that alter myofilament Ca2+ handling. METHODS AND RESULTS:When expressed in adult ventricular cardiomyocytes RGECO-TnT (Troponin T)/TnI (Troponin I) sensors localize correctly to the sarcomere without contractile impairment. Both sensors report cyclical changes in fluorescence in paced cardiomyocytes with reduced Ca2+ on and increased Ca2+ off rates compared with unconjugated RGECO. RGECO-TnT/TnI revealed changes to localized Ca2+ handling conferred by MYK-461 and levosimendan, including an increase in Ca2+ binding rates with both levosimendan and MYK-461 not detected by an unrestricted protein sensor. Coadenoviral transduction of RGECO-TnT/TnI with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causing thin filament mutants showed that the mutations increase myofilament [Ca2+] in systole, lengthen time to peak systolic [Ca2+], and delay [Ca2+] release. This contrasts with the effect of the same mutations on cytoplasmic Ca2+, when measured using unrestricted RGECO where changes to peak systolic Ca2+ are inconsistent between the 2 mutations. These data contrast with previous findings using chemical dyes that show no alteration of [Ca2+] transient amplitude or time to peak Ca2+. CONCLUSIONS:RGECO-TnT/TnI are functionally equivalent. They visualize Ca2+ within the myofilament and reveal unrecognized aspects of small molecule and disease-associated mutations in living cells.
Project description:In striated muscle, desmin intermediate filaments interlink the contractile myofibrillar apparatus with mitochondria, nuclei, and the sarcolemma. The desmin network's pivotal role in myocytes is evident since mutations in the human desmin gene cause severe myopathies and cardiomyopathies. Here, we investigated skeletal muscle pathology in myofibers and myofibrils isolated from young hetero- and homozygous R349P desmin knock-in mice, which carry the orthologue of the most frequent human desmin missense mutation R350P. We demonstrate that mutant desmin alters myofibrillar cytoarchitecture, markedly disrupts the lateral sarcomere lattice and distorts myofibrillar angular axial orientation. Biomechanical assessment revealed a high predisposition to stretch-induced damage in fiber bundles of R349P mice. Notably, Ca2+-sensitivity and passive myofibrillar tension were decreased in heterozygous fiber bundles, but increased in homozygous fiber bundles compared to wildtype mice. In a parallel approach, we generated and subsequently subjected immortalized heterozygous R349P desmin knock-in myoblasts to magnetic tweezer experiments that revealed a significantly increased sarcolemmal lateral stiffness. Our data suggest that mutated desmin already markedly impedes myocyte structure and function at pre-symptomatic stages of myofibrillar myopathies.
Project description:The giant protein titin functions as a molecular spring in muscle and is responsible for most of the passive tension of myocardium. Because the titin spring is extended during diastolic stretch, it will recoil elastically during systole and potentially may influence the overall shortening behavior of cardiac muscle. Here, titin elastic recoil was quantified in single human heart myofibrils by using a high-speed charge-coupled device-line camera and a nanonewtonrange force sensor. Application of a slack-test protocol revealed that the passive shortening velocity (Vp) of nonactivated cardiomyofibrils depends on: (i) initial sarcomere length, (ii) release-step amplitude, and (iii) temperature. Selective digestion of titin, with low doses of trypsin, decelerated myofibrillar passive recoil and eventually stopped it. Selective extraction of actin filaments with a Ca2+-independent gelsolin fragment greatly reduced the dependency of Vp on release-step size and temperature. These results are explained by the presence of viscous forces opposing myofibrillar passive recoil that are caused mainly by weak actin-titin interactions. Thus, Vp is determined by two distinct factors: titin elastic recoil and internal viscous drag forces. The recoil could be modeled as that of a damped entropic spring consisting of independent worm-like chains. The functional importance of myofibrillar elastic recoil was addressed by comparing instantaneous Vp to unloaded shortening velocity, which was measured in demembranated, fully Ca2+-activated, human cardiac fibers. Titin-driven passive recoil was much faster than active unloaded shortening velocity in early phases of isotonic contraction. Damped myofibrillar elastic recoil could help accelerate active contraction speed of human myocardium during early systolic shortening.
Project description:Variations of free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]) are powerful intracellular signals, controlling contraction as well as metabolism in muscle cells. To fully understand the role of calcium redistribution upon excitation and contraction in skeletal muscle cells, the local [Ca2+] in different compartments needs to be taken into consideration. Fluorescent probes allow the determination of [Ca2+] in the cytosol where myofibrils are embedded, the lumen of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and the mitochondrial matrix. Previously, models have been developed describing intracellular calcium handling in skeletal and cardiac muscle cells. However, a comprehensive model describing the kinetics of the changes in free calcium concentration in these three compartments is lacking. We designed a new 3D compartmental model of the half sarcomere with radial symmetry, which accounts for diffusion of Ca2+ into the three compartments and simulates its dynamics at rest and at various rates of stimulation in mice skeletal muscle fibers. This model satisfactorily reproduces both the amplitude and time course of the variations of [Ca2+] in the three compartments in mouse fast fibers. As an illustration of the applicability of the model, we investigated the effects of Calsequestrin (CSQ) ablation. CSQ is the main Ca2+ buffer in the SR, localized in close proximity of its calcium release sites and near to the mitochondria. CSQ knock-out mice muscles still preserve a near-normal contractile behavior, but it is unclear whether this is caused by additional SR calcium buffering or a significant contribution of calcium entry from extracellular space, via stored-operated calcium entry (SOCE). The model enabled quantitative assessment of these two scenarios by comparison to measurements of local calcium in the cytosol, the SR and the mitochondria. In conclusion, the model represents a useful tool to investigate the impact of protein ablation and of pharmacological interventions on intracellular calcium dynamics in mice skeletal muscle.
Project description:In the asynchronous flight muscles of higher insects, the lattice planes of contractile filaments are strictly preserved along the length of each myofibril, making the myofibril a millimetre-long giant single multiprotein crystal. To examine how such highly ordered structures are formed, we recorded X-ray diffraction patterns of the developing flight muscles of Drosophila pupae at various developmental stages. To evaluate the extent of long-range myofilament lattice order, end-on myofibrillar microdiffraction patterns were recorded from isolated quick-frozen dorsal longitudinal flight muscle fibres. In addition, conventional whole-thorax diffraction patterns were recorded from live pupae to assess the extent of development of flight musculature. Weak hexagonal fluctuations of scattering intensity were observed in the end-on patterns as early as approximately 15 h after myoblast fusion, and in the following 30 h, clear hexagonally arranged reflection spots became a common feature. The result suggests that the framework of the giant single-crystal structure is established in an early phase of myofibrillogenesis. Combined with published electron microscopy results, a myofibril in fused asynchronous flight muscle fibres is likely to start as a framework with fixed lattice plane orientations and fixed sarcomere numbers, to which constituent proteins are added afterwards without altering this basic configuration.