Motor force homeostasis in skeletal muscle contraction

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In active biological contractile processes such as skeletal muscle contraction, cellular mitosis, and neuronal growth, an interesting common observation is that multiple motors can perform coordinated and synchronous actions, whereas individual myosin motors appear to randomly attach to and detach from actin filaments. Recent experiment has demonstrated that, during skeletal muscle shortening at a wide range of velocities, individual myosin motors maintain a force of ∼6 pN during a working stroke. To understand how such force-homeostasis can be so precisely regulated in an apparently chaotic system, here we develop a molecular model within a coupled stochastic-elastic theoretical framework. The model reveals that the unique force-stretch relation of myosin motor and the stochastic behavior of actin-myosin binding cause the average number of working motors to increase in linear proportion to the filament load, so that the force on each working motor is regulated at ∼6 pN, in excellent agreement with experiment. This study suggests that it might be a general principle to use catch bonds together with a force-stretch relation similar to that of myosin motors to regulate force homeostasis in many biological processes. © 2011 Biophysical Society.




Chen, B., & Gao, H. (2011). Motor force homeostasis in skeletal muscle contraction. Biophysical Journal, 101(2), 396–403.

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