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Flashcards in Muscle Deck (29)
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Properties of skeletal muscle

Long, cylindrical, multi-nucleated cells composed of a repeating alignment of myofilaments that creates a striated appearance; nuclei are located on the periphery of skeletal muscle cells, except for in the case of damaged cells

Skeletal muscle cells can be fast twitch or slow twitch, largely dependent on the density of mitochondria as well as the myosin ATPase gene expressed


Properties of cardiac muscle cells

Single nucleated cells (myocytes) separated by intercalated discs, which physically link contracting cells together and form gap junctions for rapid electrical communication & synchronous contraction


Properties of smooth muscle cells

Single nucleated, spindle-shaped cells linked by gap junctions



Basic unit of muscle contraction; defined as extending from one Z line to the next Z line;

~10,000 sarcomeres can make up 1 skeletal muscle cell


Thin Filaments

Comprised of two filamentous actin strands wound in a helical arrangement


Thick Filament

Bundles of 300-400 myosin pairs; myosin is comprised of a pair of heavy chains and two pairs of light chains; heavy chains form globular heads with alpha helical regions and light chains associate with the globular heads; globular heads have both actin binding and ATP binding sites


Myosin cycle - skeletal muscle

In the relaxed state, Ca2+ concentration is low and myosin binding sites on actin are covered by tropomyosin

Rising intracellular Ca2+ binds to troponin, inducing a conformational change that is transferred to tropomyosin to allow uncover myosin binding sites on actin; myosin binds actin and immediately "pulls" the actin 8nm forward

ATP binding to myosin triggers it's dissociation from actin; hydrolysis of ATP by the myosin head ATPase powers the conformational change that "cocks the head" of myosin, preparing it for the next binding cycle


Myosin cycle in smooth muscle

Increased intracellular Ca2+ binds Calmodulin and Ca-Calmodulin activates CaM Kinase; CaM kinase phosphorylates one of the myosin light chains, which binds actin to generate force

Ca pumps and Na-Ca exchangers in the sarcolemma remove calcium, leading to inactivation of the kinase and dephosphorylation of myosin by a phosphatase


Function of dystrophin

Dystrophin is part of the protein machinery that anchors actin beneath the plasma membrane to extracellular matrix molecules


Function of Titin, Nebulin, and a-actinin

Titin links myosin thick filaments to the Z line, keeping myosin centered in the sarcomere

Nebulin and a-actinin associate with actin filaments, maintaining a regular arrangement of the sarcomere

Both proteins contribute to the passive tension in a muscle


Mechanism of AP-generated contraction in skeletal muscle

A depolarized nerve axon releases ACh at the neuromuscular junction, which binds AChR in the muscle post-synaptic membrane; AChR is an ion channel that opens, causing depolarization and triggering an AP which propagates in both directions from the endplate toward the tendon, and along the t-tubule network

Depolarization triggers opening of the DHPR channel, a voltage-gated Ca2+ channel in the t-tubule; the DHPR is mechanically coupled to the RyR Ca2+ release channel in the SR, which opens to allow Ca2+ efflux from the SR into the cytoplasm where it initiates actin/myosin interaction


Excitation - Contraction Coupling (Skeletal Muscle)

The mechanism by which depolarization in the t-tubule system is translated into Ca2+ release from the SR


Termination of Ca2+ signaling

Ca-ATPase pumps in the SR membrane transport Ca2+ back into the SR and bring cytoplasmic Ca2+ back to a low level


E-C Coupling (Cardiac Muscle)

In cardiac muscle, Ca2+ entry through the voltage-gated Ca2+ channel in the t-tubule is required to bind the RyR in the SR, triggering it to open and release Ca2+ from the SR into the cytoplasm; this is Calcium Induced Calcium Release (CICR)


Motor Unit

Refers to 1 motor neuron and the collection of muscle fibers that it innervates; one motor neuron may innervate multiple fibers but each muscle fiber is only innervated by one motor neuron

Motor unit size varies, from 2-3 fibers (for very fine movements) to 500 muscle fibers (for large muscles)


Grading muscle tension (skeletal) - 2 major mechanisms

1. Increase the frequency of action potentials until a maximal (tetanic) contraction is achieved

2. Recruit additional motor units until all motor neurons innervating the muscle are stimulated


Satellite Cells

Stem cells that give rise to new myoblasts to repair injured skeletal muscle; damaged cells produce factors such as leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) to trigger proliferation of satellite cells


Effect of exercise on muscles

Exercise causes hypertrophy of muscles; the cross-sectional area of each cell is increased as myoblasts are recruited and new myofibrils are formed


Muscle fatigue

Increased organic phosphate and hydrogen ions produced as a result of massive ATP consumption by skeletal muscle leads to decreased Ca2+ release from the SR as well as decreased binding of Ca2+ to troponin, causing fewer myosin-binding sites to be exposed and decreasing the overall efficiency and power of contraction


Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - Cardiac phenotype

Characterized by thickening & stiffening of the heart wall, especially in the left ventricle; impairs the heart's ability to fill and pump effectively.

Phenotypic features include:

Cardiomyocyte and cardiac hypertrophy

Myocyte disarray

Interstittial and replacement fibrosis --> arrhythmia

Dysplastic intramyocardial arterioles --> ischemia


Molecular defect of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Most common mutation is a missense point mutation Asp --> Tyr that may occur in different proteins of the sarcomere complex

Cardiomyopathies are often autosomal dominant, demonstrating incomplete penetrance and genetic heterogeneity;


Malignant hyperthermia phenotype

Individuals are healthy throughout life until exposed to anesthesia agents (halothane and/or succinylcholine); this exposure triggers hypermetabolism, hyperthermia, skeletal muscle damage, and death if untreated (70%)

Specific signs: Muscle rigidity (masseter), increased CO2 production, rhabdomyolisis, hyperthermia, acidosis, hyperkalemia, tachycardia

Treatment = dantrolene sodium


Molecular defect of malignant hyperthermia

Autosomal dominant mutation in RYR1 gene; leads to prolonged activation of the RyR protein and extended Ca2+ release in the presence of anesthesia agent trigger molecule (halothane and/or succinylcholine)


Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy phenotype

Primarily affects boys with onset of skeletal muscle disease at 3-5 years old

Phenotypic characteristics include:

Abnormal gait (i.e. toe walking)
Gower's sign,
Calf pseudohypertropy
Wheelchair bound by ~11 years old
Death in 20s by progressive involvement of respiratory muscles

Becker Muscular Dystrophy is characterized by milder muscular complaints and later-onset cardiomyopathy


Molecular defect of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Caused by big deletions (often frameshift) in the X-linked DMD gene coding for dystrophin protein; disrupts the association between intracellular actin within muscle cells and the muscle cell membrane


Clinical presentation of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Often asymptomatic throughout life BUT may present with dyspnea, angina, syncope, cardiac murmur, or arrhythmia

...also, sometimes sudden cardiac death



An association of thick and thin filaments, arranged into sarcomeres which are aligned in series and surrounded by SR


Source of Ca2+ for smooth muscle

Smooth muscle cells are very thin; Ca2+ entering from channels in the plasma membrane quickly diffuses to the center of the cell; smooth muscle cells do not need t-tubules or SR



Normally made and secreted by muscles as a negative feedback for muscle growth; mutation or selective inhibition leads to increase in muscle mass