, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 1010–1017 | Cite as

Velocity and myosin phosphorylation transients in arterial smooth muscle: effects of agonist diffusion

  • K. E. Kamm
  • R. A. Murphy


Transients in myoplasmic [Ca2+] and in phosphorylation of the 20,000 dalton light chain of myosin have been reported following stimulation of vascular smooth muscle by various agonists. Since these transients are rapid compared with the time required to attain a steady-state stress, agonist diffusion rates may be a significant limitation in activation. The purpose of this study was to estimate the effect of agonist diffusion rates on the time course of activation as assessed by mechanical measurements of stress development and isotonic shortening velocities and by determinations of the time course of myosin phosphorylation. The approach was to measure these parameters in K+-stimulated preparations of the swine carotid media of varying thicknesses and to estimate the theoretical contributions imposed by diffusion rates and the presence of a diffusion boundary layer surrounding the tissue. The results show that the time course of parameters which are tissue averages such as stiffness, active stress, and myosin phosphorylation is dominated by agonist diffusion rates. The sequence of events involved in excitation-contraction coupling including agonist actions on the cell membrane, Ca2+ release, activation of myosin light chain kinase, and cross-bridge phosphorylation appear to be very rapid events compared with stress development. Estimates of unloaded or lightly loaded shortening velocities which are not simple tissue averages appear to provide an imporoved estimate of activation rates.

Key words

Myoplasmic Ca2+ smooth muscle mechanics active state potassium depolarization myosin light chain swine carotid artery 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. E. Kamm
    • 1
  • R. A. Murphy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of Virginia, School of MedicineCharlottesvilleUSA

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