, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 359-368

Decrease in light diffraction intensity of contracting muscle fibres

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Abstract

Single fibres from the semitendinosus muscle of frog were illuminated normally with a He−Ne laser. The intensity transient and fine structure pattern of light diffracted from the fibre undergoing isometric twitches were measured. During fibre shortening, the intensity decreased rapidly and the fine structure pattern preserved its shape and moved swiftly away from the undiffracted laser beam. The fine structure patterns of the contracting and resting fibre were nearly identical. The ratio of intensities of the contracting and resting fibre of the same sarcomere length was determined as a function of the time elapsed after fibre stimulation. The time-resolved intensity ratio increased with sarcomere length and became unity when sarcomere length was between 3.5 μm and 3.7 μm. A diffraction theory based on the sarcomere unit was developed. It contained a parameter describing the strength of filament interaction. The comparison between the theory and data shows that the initial intensity drop during contraction is primarily due to filament interactions. At a later stage of contraction, sarcomere disorder becomes the major component causing the intensity to decrease. Diffraction models which use the Debye-Waller formalism to explain the intensity decrease are discussed. The sarcomere-unit diffraction model is applied to previously reported intensity measurements from active fibres.