Biomimetic model of skeletal muscle isometric contraction: II. A phenomenological model of the skeletal muscle excitation-contraction coupling process
The calcium-sensitive fluorescent indicator fluo-3 was used to monitor the intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) during isometric twitches in twenty-nine single muscle fibres from the anterior tibialis muscle of Rana temporaria (sarcomere length, 2.2 microns; 2-4 degrees C). The transient change in [Ca2+]i in response to a single stimulus was very brief. The time to peak and the duration of the Ca2+ signal, measured at 50% of the peak amplitude, were 8.3 +/- 0.2 and 22.1 +/- 1.4 ms (mean +/- S.E.M., n = 29), respectively. The mean peak amplitude of the Ca2+ transient was 3.2 +/- 0.1 microM, ranging from 2.46 to 3.92 microM among the different fibres. The isometric force started to rise 2.5 ms before [Ca2+]i reached its maximum value. When peak twitch force was attained, [Ca2+]i had already declined to approximately 10% of its maximum value. The peak force produced during a twitch was closely related to the decay phase of the Ca2+ transient, a slower decay of [Ca2+]i being associated with a greater amplitude of the twitch. The amplitude and duration of the Ca2+ transient varied in a systematic way relative to one another in different fibres, in that a greater amplitude was associated with a more rapid decay of the Ca2+ transient. NO3- and Zn2+ added to the external medium greatly enhanced the peak twitch force without markedly affecting the amplitude of the Ca2+ transient. However, both agents delayed the decay of [Ca2+]i. It is concluded that the decay phase of the Ca2+ transient is a more important determinant of the mechanical response during an isometric twitch than is the peak amplitude of the transient.