The phenomenon of A band shortening or contraction has been investigated in glycerinated myofibrils of Pecten irradians, Homarus americanus, Cambarus virilis, and Limulus polyphemus through the techniques of ultraviolet microbeam inactivation and polarization microscopy. With the former method, it has been shown that these muscles, even though exhibiting the shortening effect, contract in a manner consistent with only the sliding filament model. Intrinsic birefringence studies have indicated no significant changes in mass distribution or orientation within the shortened A bands. Except in the case of Limulus muscle, the shortening effect was seen only in contraction under tension. The magnitude of this anomalous phenomenon was dependent upon glycerination time and has been duplicated in rabbit psoas muscle through brief trypsin treatment. A band shortening could not be observed in glutaraldehyde-fixed muscle or in myofibrils glycerinated for only short periods. It has been concluded that the phenomenon of A band contraction is an artifact induced by the glycerination procedure, possibly through weakening of the sarcomere structure. However, the fact that the A band shortens under tension rather than lengthens poses an interesting paradox.

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