The force development by calcium-activated skinned frog skeletal muscle fibers and the motion on a slow time base after a quick decrease in load were studied at 0-1 degrees C as a function of the ionic strength and the degree of activation. The ionic strength was varied between 50 and 190 mM by adding appropriate concentrations of KCl to the bathing solution. Under these conditions, the fibers could be maximally activated for several cycles at low ionic strength without developing residual tension. We found that the steady isometric force in fully activated fibers linearly decreased when the KCl concentration was increased from 0 to 140 mM. The steady isotonic motion at a given relative load in fully activated fibers was almost the same at KCl concentration greater than or equal to 50 mM. In 0 and 20 mM KCl, the isotonic velocity decreased continuously for more than 300 ms. At a given relative load, the initial velocity of the motion in 0 and 20 mM KCl was about 0.6 and 0.9 times, respectively, that in 140 mM KCl. The initial velocity decreased further when residual tension developed; this observation provides additional evidence that residual tension may reflect the presence of an internal load. The effect of calcium on the motion was examined at 70 mM KCl. In this solution, the motion during the velocity transient at a given relative load appeared to be the same at different levels of activation. The speed of the subsequent motion was almost steady at high calcium levels but decreased continuously in low calcium levels. These results support the idea that at low ionic strength the response of the fiber to calcium is switch-like, but that other factors also affect the contraction mechanism under these conditions.

This content is only available as a PDF.