Muscle force is generated by cycling cross-bridges between actin and myosin filaments. In smooth muscle, cyclic attachment and detachment of cross-bridges is thought to be induced by a Ca2+- and calmodulin-dependent myosin light chain kinase which phosphorylates myosin. The relaxation that occurs after Ca2+ removal is usually ascribed to dephosphorylation of myosin by a phosphatase as non-phosphorylated myosin is unable to form force-generating criss-bridges1. Recently, Dillon et al.2 claimed, however, that dephosphorylation of attached cross-bridges may impede cross-bridge detachment, thus forming so-called ‘latch bridges’. Here we present evidence that after a Ca2+- and calmodulin-induced contraction of chemically skinned guinea pig Taenia coli3, the rapid removal of Ca2+ impedes the detachment of the myosin cross-bridges from the actin filament; force can then be maintained without energy consumption. The extremely slowly detaching cross-bridges which maintain the force after Ca2+ removal may indeed correspond to the ‘latch bridges’ mentioned above.
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Güth, K., Junge, J. Low Ca2+ impedes cross-bridge detachment in chemically skinned Taenia coli. Nature 300, 775–776 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1038/300775a0
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