Calcium transients in asymmetrically activated skeletal muscle fibers

G. Trube, J. R. Lopez, S. R. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Skeletal muscle fibers of the frog Rana temporaria were held just taut and stimulated transversely by indirectional electrical fields. We observed the reversible effects of stimulus duration (0.1-100 ms) and strength on action potentials, intracellular Ca2+ transients (monitored by aequorin), and contractile force during fixed-end contractions. Long duration stimuli (e.g., 10 ms) induced a maintained depolarization on the cathodal side of a cell and a maintained hyperpolarization on its anodal side. The hyperpolarization of the side facing the anode prevented the action potential from reaching mechanical threshold during strong stimuli. Variation of the duration or strength of a stimulus changed the luminescent response from a fiber injected with aequorin. Thus, the intracellular Ca2+ released during excitation-contraction coupling could be changed by the stimulus parameters. Prolongation of a stimulus at field strengths above 1.1 x rheobase decreased the amplitude of aequorin signals and the force of contractions. The decreases in aequorin and force signals from a given fiber paralleled one another and depended on the stimulus strength, but not on the stimulus polarity. These changes were completely reversible for stimulus strengths up to at least 4.2 x rheobase. The graded decreases in membrane depolarization, aequorin signals, and contractile force were correlated with the previously described folding of myofibrils in fibers allowed to shorten in response to the application of a long duration stimulus. The changes in aequorin signals and force suggest an absence of myofilament activation by Ca2+ in the section of the fiber closest to the anode. The results imply that injected aequorin distributes circumferentially in frog muscle with a coefficient of at least 10-7 cm2/s, which is not remarkably different from the previously measured coefficient of 5 x 10-8 cm2/s for its diffusion lengthwise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-507
Number of pages17
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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