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Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 15;6:24492. doi: 10.1038/srep24492.

Titin stiffness modifies the force-generating region of muscle sarcomeres.

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Department of Cardiovascular Physiology, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.


The contractile units of striated muscle, the sarcomeres, comprise the thick (myosin) and thin (actin) filaments mediating active contraction and the titin filaments determining "passive" elasticity. We hypothesized that titin may be more active in muscle contraction by directly modulating thick-filament properties. We used single-myofibril mechanical measurements and atomic force microscopy of individual sarcomeres to quantify the effects of sarcomere strain and titin spring length on both the inter-filament lattice spacing and the lateral stiffness of the actin-myosin overlap zone (A-band). We found that strain reduced the lattice spacing similarly in sarcomeres with stiff (rabbit psoas) or compliant titin (rabbit diaphragm), but increased A-band lateral stiffness much more in psoas than in diaphragm. The strain-induced alterations in A-band stiffness that occur independently of lattice spacing effects may be due to titin stiffness-sensing by A-band proteins. This mechanosensitivity could play a role in the physiologically important phenomenon of length-dependent activation of striated muscle.

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