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Liquid-crystalline characteristics of the thick filament lattice of striated muscle

Naturevolume 257pages139141 (1975) | Download Citation



THE lattice of thick filaments (A-band lattice) in striated muscle is similar in many respects to smectic liquid-crystalline structures in which macromolecules are arranged parallel to and equidistant from each other forming lattice planes1,2. Like other liquid-crystalline systems, this lattice may exist in two characteristic conditions which are determined either by a simple balance between electrical forces3–5,7 or subject to an additional volume-limiting force6–8. Some mathematical analyses2,4–6,9–12 agree with the experimental results obtained from glycerinated muscle3 and skinned fibres13–15, but are only applicable to the electrically balanced liquid-crystalline condition. The behaviour of the thick filament lattice in intact living muscle cannot be explained exclusively in terms of a balance between Van der Waals' and electrostatic force5 because the Donnan-osmotic steady state across the sarcolemma determines the net water flux and thereby controls the fibre and lattice volumes. Cross bridges or M-line bridges cannot be evoked as a mechanism for maintaining the lattice regularity because the array persists in EGTA-relaxed skinned fibres in muscles having no M-line structure14.

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  1. Department of Anatomy, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York City, New York, 10032



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