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Meat Sci. 2002 Nov;62(3):345-52.

Meat tenderness and muscle growth: is there any relationship?

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US Meat Animal Research Center, ARS, USDA, PO Box 166, Spur 18-D, Clay Center, NE 68933-0166, USA.


Our objectives for this manuscript are to review the mechanisms of muscle growth, the biological basis of meat tenderness, and the relationship between these two processes. Muscle growth is determined by hyperplasia and hypertrophy. Muscle cell size is determined by the balance between the amount of muscle protein synthesized and the amount of muscle protein degraded. Current evidence suggests that the calpain proteolytic system is a major regulator of muscle protein degradation. Sarcomere length, connective tissue content, and proteolysis of myofibrils and associated proteins account for most, if not all, of the explainable variation in tenderness of meat after postmortem storage. The relative contribution of each of the above components is muscle dependent. The calpain proteolytic system is a key regulator of postmortem proteolysis. While changes in muscle protein degradation affect meat tenderization/tenderness, changes in muscle protein synthesis are not expected to affect meat tenderization/tenderness.


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