Nanometer-scale Structure Differences in the Myofilament Lattice Spacing of Two Cockroach Leg Muscles Correspond to their Different Functions

June 01, 2020 | Biology

First published on the Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB), Lab.Equipment brings you this article for your day-to-day Biology news fix.

Travis Carver Tune, Weikang Ma, Thomas Irving, and Simon Sponberg

Muscle is highly organized across multiple length scales. Consequently, small changes in the arrangement of myofilaments can influence macroscopic mechanical function. Two leg muscles of a cockroach have identical innervation, mass, twitch responses, length–tension curves and force–velocity relationships. However, during running, one muscle is dissipative (a ‘brake’), while the other dissipates and produces significant positive mechanical work (bifunctional). Using time-resolved X-ray diffraction in intact, contracting muscle, we simultaneously measured the myofilament lattice spacing, packing structure and macroscopic force production of these muscles to test whether structural differences in the myofilament lattice might correspond to the muscles' different mechanical functions. While the packing patterns are the same, one muscle has 1 nm smaller lattice spacing at rest. Under isometric stimulation, the difference in lattice spacing disappeared, consistent with the two muscles' identical steady-state behavior. During periodic contractions, one muscle undergoes a 1 nm greater change in lattice spacing, which correlates with force. This is the first identified structural feature in the myofilament lattice of these two muscles that shares their whole-muscle dynamic differences and quasi-static similarities... Want to read more? You can view the whole article in the Journal of Experimental Biology Blog.

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