Passive stretch, isometric contraction, and shortening were studied in electron micrographs of striated, non-glycerinated frog muscle fibers. The artifacts due to the different steps of preparation were evaluated by comparing sarcomere length and fiber diameter before, during, and after fixation and after sectioning. Tension and length were recorded in the resting and contracted fiber before and during fixation. The I filaments could be traced to enter the A band between the A filaments on both sides of the I band, creating a zone of overlap which decreased linearly with stretch and increased with shortening. This is consistent with a sliding filament model. The decrease in the length of the A and I filaments during isometric contraction and the finding that fibers stretched to a sarcomere length of 3.7 µ still developed 30 per cent of the maximum tetanic tension could not be explained in terms of the sliding filament model. Shortening of the sarcomeres near the myotendinous junctions which still have overlap could account for only one-sixth of this tension, indicating that even those sarcomeres stretched to such a degree that there is a gap between A and I filaments are activated during isometric contraction (increase in stiffness). Shortening, too, was associated with changes in filament length. The diameter of A filaments remained unaltered with stretch and with isometric contraction. Shortening of 50 per cent was associated with a 13 per cent increase in A filament diameter. The area occupied by the fibrils and by the interfibrillar space increased with shortening, indicating a 20 per cent reduction in the volume of the fibrils when shortening amounted to 40 per cent.
ULTRASTRUCTURE OF THE RESTING AND CONTRACTED STRIATED MUSCLE FIBER AT DIFFERENT DEGREES OF STRETCH
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F. Carlsen, G. G. Knappeis, F. Buchthal; ULTRASTRUCTURE OF THE RESTING AND CONTRACTED STRIATED MUSCLE FIBER AT DIFFERENT DEGREES OF STRETCH . J Biophys and Biochem Cytol 1 October 1961; 11 (1): 95–117. doi: https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.11.1.95
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