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Circ Res. 2002 Jan 11;90(1):59-65.

Myofilament calcium sensitivity in skinned rat cardiac trabeculae: role of interfilament spacing.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60607-7171, USA.


The increase in myofilament Ca(2+) responsiveness on an increase in sarcomere length (SL) is, in part, the cellular basis for Frank-Starling's law of the heart. It has been suggested that a decrease in myofilament lattice spacing (LS) in response to an increase in SL underlies this phenomenon. This hypothesis is supported by previous studies in which reduced muscle width induced by osmotic compression was associated with an increase in Ca(2+) sensitivity, mimicking those changes observed with an increase in SL. To evaluate this hypothesis, we directly measured LS by synchrotron x-ray diffraction as function of SL in skinned rat cardiac trabeculae bathed in 0% to 6% dextran solutions (MW 413 000). We found that EC(50), [Ca(2+)] at which force is half-maximal, at SL between 1.95 and 2.25 microm did not vary in proportion to LS when 3% or 6% dextran solutions were applied. We also found that moderate compression (1% dextran) of skinned trabeculae at SL=2.02 microm reduced LS (LS=42.29+/-0.14 nm) to match that of uncompressed fibers at a long SL (SL=2.19 microm; LS=42.28+/-0.15 nm). Whereas increasing SL from 2.02 to 2.19 microm significantly increased Ca(2+) sensitivity as indexed by the EC(50) parameter (2.87+/-0.11 micromol/L to 2.52+/-0.12 micromol/L), similar reduction in myofilament lattice spacing achieved by compression with 1% dextran did not alter Ca(2+) sensitivity (2.87+/-0.10 micromol/L) at the short SL. We conclude that alterations in myofilament lattice spacing may not be the mechanism that underlies the sarcomere length-induced alteration of calcium sensitivity in skinned myocardium.

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