Microfluidic perfusion shows intersarcomere dynamics within single skeletal muscle myofibrils [Biophysics and Computational Biology]
The sarcomere is the smallest functional unit of myofibrils in striated muscles. Sarcomeres are connected in series through a network of elastic and structural proteins. During myofibril activation, sarcomeres develop forces that are regulated through complex dynamics among their structures. The mechanisms that regulate intersarcomere dynamics are unclear, which limits our understanding of fundamental muscle features. Such dynamics are associated with the loss in forces caused by mechanical instability encountered in muscle diseases and cardiomyopathy and may underlie potential target treatments for such conditions. In this study, we developed a microfluidic perfusion system to control one sarcomere within a myofibril, while measuring the individual behavior of all sarcomeres. We found that the force from one sarcomere leads to adjustments of adjacent sarcomeres in a mechanism that is dependent on the sarcomere length and the myofibril stiffness. We concluded that the cooperative work of the contractile and the elastic elements within a myofibril rules the intersarcomere dynamics, with important consequences for muscle contraction.
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