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Biophys J. 1976 Aug;16(8):919-30.

Sarcomere length dispersion in single skeletal muscle fibers and fiber bundles.


Light diffraction patterns produced by single skeletal muscle fibers and small fiber bundles of Rana pipiens semitendinosus have been examined at rest and during tetanic contraction. The muscle diffraction patterns were recorded with a vidicon camera interfaced to a minicomputer. Digitized video output was analyzed on-line to determine mean sarcomere length, line intensity, and the distribution of sarcomere lengths. The occurrence of first-order line intensity and peak amplitude maxima at approximately 3.0 mum is interpreted in terms of simple scattering theory. Measurements made along the length of a singel fiber reveal small variations in calculated mean sarcomere length (SD about 1.2%) and its percent dispersion (2.1% +/- 0.8%). Dispersion in small multifiber preparations increases approximately linearly with fiber number (about 0.2% per fiber) to a maximum of 8-10% in large bundles. Dispersion measurements based upon diffraction line analysis are comparable to SDs calculated from length distribution histograms obtained by light micrography of the fiber. First-order line intensity decreases by about 40% during tetanus; larger multifibered bundles exhibit substantial increases in sarcomere dispersion during contraction, but single fibers show no appreciable dispersion change. These results suggest the occurrence of asynchronous static or dynamic axial disordering of thick filaments, with a persistence in long range order of sarcomere spacing during contraction in single fibers.

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