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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013 Jul 15;305(2):R118-25. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00178.2013. Epub 2013 May 15.

Ca²⁺-pumping impairment during repetitive fatiguing contractions in single myofibers: role of cross-bridge cycling.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


The energy cost of contractions in skeletal muscle involves activation of both actomyosin and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca²⁺-pump (SERCA) ATPases, which together determine the overall ATP demand. During repetitive contractions leading to fatigue, the relaxation rate and Ca²⁺ pumping become slowed, possibly because of intracellular metabolite accumulation. The role of the energy cost of cross-bridge cycling during contractile activity on Ca²⁺-pumping properties has not been investigated. Therefore, we inhibited cross-bridge cycling by incubating isolated Xenopus single fibers with N-benzyl-p-toluene sulfonamide (BTS) to study the mechanisms by which SR Ca²⁺ pumping is impaired during fatiguing contractions. Fibers were stimulated in the absence (control) and presence of BTS and cytosolic calcium ([Ca²⁺]c) transients or intracellular pH (pHi) changes were measured. BTS treatment allowed normal [Ca²⁺]c transients during stimulation without cross-bridge activation. At the time point that tension was reduced to 50% in the control condition, the fall in the peak [Ca²⁺]c and the increase in basal [Ca²⁺]c did not occur with BTS incubation. The progressively slower Ca²⁺ pumping rate and the fall in pHi during repetitive contractions were reduced during BTS conditions. However, when mitochondrial ATP supply was blocked during contractions with BTS present (BTS + cyanide), there was no further slowing in SR Ca²⁺ pumping during contractions compared with the BTS-alone condition. Furthermore, the fall in pHi was significantly less during the BTS + cyanide condition than in the control conditions. These results demonstrate that factors related to the energetic cost of cross-bridge cycling, possibly the accumulation of metabolites, inhibit the Ca²⁺ pumping rate during fatiguing contractions.


Ca2+ uptake rate; cross-bridge cycling; fatigue; glycolysis; oxidative phophorylation; skeletal muscle

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