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Light diffraction patterns and sarcomere length variation in striated muscle fibers ofLimulus

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Light diffraction patterns produced byLimulus striated muscle fibers were examined. Segments of fibers were glycerinated, fixed or bathed in relaxing solution. Profiles of the intensity of a diffracted order vs. the angle of incidence of the laser beam often exhibited narrow peaks with the fiber at rest length. The incident angles at which the intensity of left and right orders is greatest are used to calculate the sarcomere length, supporting the notion that regions of the fiber are organised into Bragg reflecting planes. These profiles developed subpeaks and broadened upon stretch of the fiber. The broad angle scan profiles are suggested to result from a decrease in the regular packing of myofibrils as the fiber is lengthened. The angular width of the subpeaks is used to estimate the thickness of clusters of myofibrils. The variation in sarcomere length along the fiber, as determined by the 0th to 1st diffraction order spacing, was dependent upon the fiber preparation. Glycerinated fibers and those bathed in relaxing solution showed more variation than fixed fibers. The variation of sarcomere length is compared to the variation in thick filament lengths inLimulus reported by Dewey et al. (1982) lengths inLimulus reported by Dewey et al. (1982). These results are compared to those obtained from frog fiber segments.

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Correspondence to Ronald J. Baskin.

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Burton, K., Baskin, R.J. Light diffraction patterns and sarcomere length variation in striated muscle fibers ofLimulus . Pflugers Arch. 406, 409–418 (1986).

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Key words

  • Muscle
  • Laser diffraction
  • Limulus