Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Where Do Muscles Get Their Power? Fifty-Year-Old Assumptions About Strength Muscled Aside

C. David Williams created a 3-D computer model of filaments of myosin (in red) reaching out and tugging along filaments of actin (in blue, looking like stands of pearls twined together) during the contraction of a muscle. The model allowed researchers to consider the geometry and physics at work on the filaments when a muscle bulges. (Credit: D. Williams/University of Washington)

 

From the 12 July 2013 article at Science Daily

Doctors have a new way of thinking about how to treat heart and skeletal muscle diseases. Body builders have a new way of thinking about how they maximize their power. Both owe their new insight to high-energy X-rays, a moth and cloud computing.

The basics of how a muscle generates power remain the same: Filaments of myosin tugging on filaments of actin shorten, or contract, the muscle — but the power doesn’t just come from what’s happening straight up and down the length of the muscle, as has been assumed for 50 years.

Instead, University of Washington-led research shows that as muscles bulge, the filaments are drawn apart from each other, the myosin tugs at sharper angles over greater distances, and it’s that action that deserves credit for half the change in muscle force scientists have been measuring.

Researchers made this discovery when using computer modeling to test the geometry and physics of the 50-year-old understanding of how muscles work. The computer results of the force trends were validated through X-ray diffraction experiments on moth flight muscle, which is very similar to human cardiac muscle. The X-ray work was led by co-author Thomas Irving, an Illinois Institute of Technology professor and director of the Biophysics Collaborative Access Team (Bio-CAT) beamline at the Advanced Photon Source, which is housed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

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July 18, 2013 - Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , ,

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