• David Aitchison Smith


Our current understanding of the molecular mechanism of muscle contraction is the product of two millennia of speculation, dissection and theorising, in which the sarcomeres, which constitute the one-dimensional periodic structure of striated muscle, slowly came to the fore. In 1953, A.F. Huxley and H.E. Huxley observed that each sarcomere was composed of two lattices of interdigitating filaments which slid into each other as the muscle contracted, overthrowing the paradigm that contraction was caused by shrinking filaments. The dominant theory of contraction is built around the ‘swinging-lever-arm’ model, in which each myosin motor is attached to its thick filament by a 10 nm heavy chain which acts as a lever-arm, causing sliding when the motor is bound to a thin filament made of actin. This introduction presents an overview of muscle structure, contractile behaviour and different theories of contractility, which form the background for the construction of quantitative theories.


Contraction Myosin Actin Sarcomere Tetanus 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Aitchison Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Anatomy and MicrobiologyLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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