Myofibrils bear most of the resting tension in frog skeletal muscle

Science  13 Dec 1985:
Vol. 230, Issue 4731, pp. 1280-1282
DOI: 10.1126/science.4071053


The tension that develops when relaxed muscles are stretched is the resting (or passive) tension. It has recently been shown that the resting tension of intact skeletal muscle fibers is equivalent to that of mechanically skinned skeletal muscle fibers. Laser diffraction measurements of sarcomere length have now been used to show that the exponential relation between resting tension and sarcomere length for whole frog semitendinosus muscle is similar to that of single fibers. Slack sarcomere lengths and the rates of stress relaxation in these muscles were similar to those in skinned fibers, and sarcomere length remained unchanged during stress relaxation, as in skinned fibers. Thus, in intact semitendinosus muscle of the frog up to a sarcomere length of about 3.8 micrometers, resting tension arises, not in the connective tissue as is commonly thought, but in the elastic resistance of the myofibrils.

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