McClellan and Winegrad (1980, J. Gen. Physiol., 75:283-295) have reported that in rat ventricular muscles that have reportedly been made "hyperpermeable" to small ions such as Ca2+, CaEGTA2-, and MgATP2- by a soak in EGTA, the maximum Ca2+-regulated force can be permanently increased by a short exposure to positively inotropic drugs, such as epinephrine or cAMP plus theophylline, in the presence of the detergent Triton X-100. The experiments reported here were begun as an attempt to repeat and extend this important observation. However, no evidence could be found for a potentiation of force that was not merely produced by Triton alone. In addition, the thickest muscles used (250-440 microns diameter) exhibited very low values for force per unit cross-sectional area, which suggested that either Ca2+ reached only a fraction of the myofibrils or the myofibrils were in a state of low contractility. The results of further experiments that were designed to test the permeability characteristics of these EGTA-treated muscles indicated that the movement of certain ions into these preparations was restricted, even in thin muscles (80-200 microns diameter). The rate of development of Ca2+-regulated force was slow (t1/2 approximately equal to 1-3 min), but was greatly accelerated after the muscles had been superfused with Triton X-100 (t1/2 approximately equal to 10-20 s). Removal of creatine phosphate (CP) in the presence of MgATP produced a partial rigor contracture in the EGTA-treated muscles. The results were consistent with the suggestion that the EGTA-treated muscles were permeable to some extent to Ca2+ and HCP2- ions but not to CaEGTA2- and MgATP2-. Thus, it would seem unlikely that the [Ca2+], [MgATP2-], and [Mg2+] in the immediate vicinity of the myofibrils in these preparations can be adequately controlled by the solution bathing the muscles.

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