Cooperative Muscular Activation by Calcium

  • David Aitchison Smith


An ultimate test of theories of muscle contraction is to reproduce contractile behaviour as a function of the sarcoplasmic concentration of calcium ions. In muscle, the cooperative nature of Ca2+-activation seen with regulated actin in solution is manifest in the steep rise of isometric tension and ATPase rate with [Ca2+], and also in the regulation of transient responses. This chapter surveys the wealth of behaviour observed in striated muscle, fibres, myofibrils and motility assays, before turning to theories of cooperative regulation in fibres. For a single thin filament, a lattice theory of cooperative activation with TmTn units as a continuous flexible chain is developed, and explored computationally with a simple crossbridge model. Spontaneous oscillatory contractions (SPOC) constitute a new state of muscle observed only at low calcium, which can be modelled in terms of enhanced length activation on the descending limb. Finally, we consider direct myosin regulation by its light chains, and whether this mechanism can act cooperatively.


Calcium Tropomyosin Troponin Chain model SPOC 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Aitchison Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Anatomy and MicrobiologyLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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