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Biophys J. 1979 Oct;28(1):45-64.

Light diffraction study of single skeletal muscle fibres.


Light diffraction patterns from isolated frog semitendinosus muscle fibers were examined. When transilluminated by laser light, the muscle striations produce a diffraction pattern consisting of a series of lines that are projected as points onto an optical detector by a lens system. Diffraction data may be sequentially stored every 18 ms for later processing by digital computer systems. First- and second-order diffraction line intensities were examined from intact, chemically skinned, and glycerinated single fibers. The diffraction line intensities demonstrated a strong length dependence upon passive stretch from reference length to 3.6 micrometer. The first-order intensity linearly increased an average of 15-fold over the range examined. The magnitude of the second order intensity was less than the first order and showed an exponential rise with increasing length. Both first- and second-order intensities decreased upon muscle activation. Data from chemically skinned and glycerinated single fibers were not significantly different from intact fibers, indicating that the membrane structure has little effect upon the diffraction phenomenon in muscle. Theoretical model systems are examined in an attempt to find the basis of these results. Neither an analysis based on a diffraction grating with variable spacing nor the unit cell model of Fujime provides an explanation for the observed length dependency of intensity. Though the origin of the intensity decrease upon stimulation is not known, we have suggested that it could result from lateral misalignment of myofibrils and can occur upon activation.

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