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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2010 May;48(5):817-23. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2010.02.016. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

Mechanical stress-induced sarcomere assembly for cardiac muscle growth in length and width.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


A ventricular myocyte experiences changes in length and load during every beat of the heart and has the ability to remodel cell shape to maintain cardiac performance. Specifically, myocytes elongate in response to increased diastolic strain by adding sarcomeres in series, and they thicken in response to continued systolic stress by adding filaments in parallel. Myocytes do this while still keeping the resting sarcomere length close to its optimal value at the peak of the length-tension curve. This review focuses on the little understood mechanisms by which direction of growth is matched in a physiologically appropriate direction. We propose that the direction of strain is detected by differential phosphorylation of proteins in the costamere, which then transmit signaling to the Z-disc for parallel or series addition of thin filaments regulated via the actin capping processes. In this review, we link mechanotransduction to the molecular mechanisms for regulation of myocyte length and width.

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