Muscle contraction is caused by the action of myosin motors within the structural confines of contractile unit arrays. When the force generated by cyclic interactions between myosin crossbridges and actin filaments is greater than the average load shared by the crossbridges, sliding of the actin filaments occurs and the muscle shortens. The shortening velocity as a function of muscle load can be described mathematically by a hyperbola; this characteristic force–velocity relationship stems from stochastic interactions between the crossbridges and the actin filaments. Beyond the actomyosin interaction, there is not yet a unified theory explaining smooth muscle contraction, mainly because the structure of the contractile unit in smooth muscle (akin to the sarcomere in striated muscle) is still undefined. In this review, functional and structural data from airway smooth muscle are analyzed in an engineering approach of quantification and correlation to support a model of the contractile unit with characteristics revealed by mathematical analyses and behavior matched by experimental observation.
Myosin Crossbridge, Contractile Unit, and the Mechanism of Contraction in Airway Smooth Muscle: A Mechanical Engineer's Perspective
Manuscript received September 6, 2018; final manuscript received December 20, 2018; published online February 8, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Alastair Stewart.
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Seow, C. Y. (February 8, 2019). "Myosin Crossbridge, Contractile Unit, and the Mechanism of Contraction in Airway Smooth Muscle: A Mechanical Engineer's Perspective." ASME. ASME J of Medical Diagnostics. February 2019; 2(1): 010804. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4042479
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