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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the components involved in a muscle contraction
  • Explain how muscles contract and relax
  • Describe the sliding filament model of muscle contraction

The sequence of events that result in the contraction of an individual muscle fiber begins with a signal—the neurotransmitter, ACh—from the motor neuron innervating that fiber. The local membrane of the fiber will depolarize as positively charged sodium ions (Na + ) enter, triggering an action potential that spreads to the rest of the membrane will depolarize, including the T-tubules. This triggers the release of calcium ions (Ca ++ ) from storage in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). The Ca ++ then initiates contraction, which is sustained by ATP ( [link] ). As long as Ca ++ ions remain in the sarcoplasm to bind to troponin, which keeps the actin-binding sites “unshielded,” and as long as ATP is available to drive the cross-bridge cycling and the pulling of actin strands by myosin, the muscle fiber will continue to shorten to an anatomical limit.

Contraction of a muscle fiber

The top panel in this figure shows the interaction of a motor neuron with a muscle fiber and how the release of acetylcholine into the muscle cells leads to the release of calcium. The middle panel shows how calcium release activates troponin and leads to muscle contraction. The bottom panel shows an image of a muscle fiber being shortened and producing tension.
A cross-bridge forms between actin and the myosin heads triggering contraction. As long as Ca ++ ions remain in the sarcoplasm to bind to troponin, and as long as ATP is available, the muscle fiber will continue to shorten.

Muscle contraction usually stops when signaling from the motor neuron ends, which repolarizes the sarcolemma and T-tubules, and closes the voltage-gated calcium channels in the SR. Ca ++ ions are then pumped back into the SR, which causes the tropomyosin to reshield (or re-cover) the binding sites on the actin strands. A muscle also can stop contracting when it runs out of ATP and becomes fatigued ( [link] ).

Relaxation of a muscle fiber

The top panel in this figure shows the interaction of a motor neuron with a muscle fiber and how calcium is being absorbed into the muscle fiber. This results in the relaxation of the thin and thick filaments as shown in the bottom panel.
Ca ++ ions are pumped back into the SR, which causes the tropomyosin to reshield the binding sites on the actin strands. A muscle may also stop contracting when it runs out of ATP and becomes fatigued.

The release of calcium ions initiates muscle contractions. Watch this video to learn more about the role of calcium. (a) What are “T-tubules” and what is their role? (b) Please describe how actin-binding sites are made available for cross-bridging with myosin heads during contraction.

The molecular events of muscle fiber shortening occur within the fiber’s sarcomeres (see [link] ). The contraction of a striated muscle fiber occurs as the sarcomeres, linearly arranged within myofibrils, shorten as myosin heads pull on the actin filaments.

The region where thick and thin filaments overlap has a dense appearance, as there is little space between the filaments. This zone where thin and thick filaments overlap is very important to muscle contraction, as it is the site where filament movement starts. Thin filaments, anchored at their ends by the Z-discs, do not extend completely into the central region that only contains thick filaments, anchored at their bases at a spot called the M-line. A myofibril is composed of many sarcomeres running along its length; thus, myofibrils and muscle cells contract as the sarcomeres contract.

Questions & Answers

what is heparin
Lawrence Reply
why is it anatomy
Tenacious Reply
hello
ASIMENU
hi
asare
hws life
Tenacious
anatomy is the scientific study of the body's structure
Lawrence
great
Lawrence
good night
Kaaya
anatomy is the study of form, physiology is the study of function
Patrick
anatomy is the study of the structure of the body and the physical relationship between it constituent part
Florence
what is heparin
Lawrence
what is the trunk
Tenacious
trunk is define as a person's or animal's body apart from the limp and head
Lawrence
The trunk is part of the axial skeleton
Patrick
supine or dorsal position is used in clinical setting when patient is placed in position, to examine what?
Dinyando Reply
what do nurses/doctors detect when a patient is placed on dorsal position?
Dinyando
What is coroid process?
kelvin Reply
describe special situation with implications in medical ethics.
kelvin
what is the difference between anatomy and physiology
Dinyando Reply
anatomy is the study of human body . and physiology is the study of the brain
Maryiam
ok
Varun
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Varun
hi!
kelvin
hello
Maryiam
sorry I cant see the full question
Jessica Reply
what was the question?
evelyna
what is spine as a bone marking?
John
similar to a crest but raised more
evelyna
pointed process
evelyna
slender
evelyna
pointed projection i meant
evelyna
what fills the hallow space in the middle of bones? thanks
John
marrow
evelyna
bone marrow
evelyna
hey you gotta read a book
evelyna
i just happen to take this bone chapter in my book last week so i remember
evelyna
yeah i should. how about the correct match of the number of tarsal, metatarsal and phalanges?
John
10, fingers and toes, u know this
Patrick
what is the difference between basal laminal and basal membrane
Nartey Reply
I think they r the same
Patrick
If one is missing the opsin which detects wavelengths of approximately 560 nm what color would they be unable to see?
Alicia Reply
how do I explain into details the epithelial tissue
Sir Reply
Epithelial tissues line the outer surfaces of organs and blood vessels throughout the body, as well as the inner surfaces of cavities in many internal organs. An example is the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. There are three principal shapes of epithelialcell: squamous, columnar, and cub
DJ
thank you
Sir
explain how the intestinal irritation results in diarrhoea
Sir
what is cerebrospinal fluid
nitesha Reply
Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear, colorless body fluid found in the brain and spinal cord. It is produced by the specialised ependymal cells in the choroid plexuses of the ventricles of the brain, and absorbed in the arachnoid granulations.
DJ
cerebrospinal fluid is the fluid present in the brain and spinal cord
olusoga
it is whitish in colour
olusoga
what are the function of the blood
Hannah Reply
to transport oxygen in hemoglobin and nutrients
Thembani
ok
Hannah
describe the pulmonary circulation
Hannah
Which of the following structures contains membranes with mucus glands and blood vessels to help humidify and warm air?
Sheika Reply
thoracic pump for blood, and lymphatic flow for mucus membranes .
Rugiatu
explanation shortly about organizaton of human body
Maulidi Reply
the human body is the entire structure of a human being.it is composed of many different types of cells that together create tissues and subsequently organ systems.they ensure homeostasis and viability of the human body
Chundu
which is the largest body organ?
Carine Reply
skin
Vinod
hello everyone what is blood carcinoma?
Khabat Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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