Journal of Muscle Research & Cell Motility

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 573–584 | Cite as

Contraction-induced movements of water in single fibres of frog skeletal muscle

  • Károly Trombitás
  • Peter Baatsen
  • John Schreuder
  • Gerald H. Pollack


Although X-ray diffraction measurements imply almost constant filament separation during isometric contraction, such constancy does not hold at the level of the isolated cell; cell cross-section increases substantially during isometric contraction. This expansion could arise from accumulation of water drawn from other fibre regions, or from water drawn into the cell from outside. To distinguish between these hypotheses, we froze single fibres of frog skeletal muscle that were jacketed by a thin layer of water. Frozen fibres were freeze-substituted, sectioned transversely, and examined in the electron microscope. In fibres frozen during contraction, we found large amounts of water just beneath the sarcolemma, less in deeper regions, and almost none in the fibre core. Such gradients were absent or diminished in fibres frozen in the relaxed state. The water was not confined to the myofibril space alone; we found large water spaces between myofibrils, particularly near mitochondria. Accumulation of water between myofibrils and around mitochondria implies that the driving force for water movement probably lies outside the filament lattice, and may therefore be osmotic. The fact that the distribution was nonuniform-highest near the sarcolemma and lowest in the core-implies that the water was likely drawn from the thin jacket surrounding the cell. Thus, the contractile cycle appears to be associated with water entry into and exit from the cell.


Electron Microscope Thin Layer Water Movement Isometric Contraction Diffraction Measurement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Károly Trombitás
    • 1
  • Peter Baatsen
    • 1
  • John Schreuder
    • 1
  • Gerald H. Pollack
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Bioengineering WD-12University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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