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The predictions of scaling of skeletal muscle shortening velocity made by A.V. Hill 60-years ago have proven to be remarkably accurate at the cellular level. The current investigation looks to extend the study of scaling of contractile speed to the level of the molecular motor protein myosin at both physiological and unphysiological low temperatures. A single muscle cell in vitro motility assay to test myosin function, i.e. myosin extracted from short single muscle fibre segments, was used in four species representing a 5 500-fold difference in body mass (rat, man, horse and rhinoceros) at temperatures ranging from 15 to 35 °C. The in vitro motility speed increased as the temperature of the assay increased, but a more profound effect was observed on the slower isoforms, narrowing the relative differences between fast and slow myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoforms at physiological temperature in all species. The in vitro motility speed varied according to MyHC isoform within each species: I < IIa < IIx < IIb, but the expected scaling relationship within orthologous myosin isoforms was not observed at any temperature. The scaling effect of body size and limb length on shortening velocity at the muscle fibre level, i.e. the decreasing shortening velocity associated with increasing body weight and limb length, was not confirmed at the motor protein level when including mammals of very large size. Thus, other factors than myosin structure and function appear to cause this scaling effect and thin filament isoform expression or myofilament lattice spacing are forwarded as alternative underlying factors. © 2011 The Authors. Acta Physiologica © 2011 Scandinavian Physiological Society.


M Li, M Li, J O Marx, L Larsson. There is no slowing of motility speed with increased body size in rat, human, horse and rhinoceros independent on temperature and skeletal muscle myosin isoform. Acta physiologica (Oxford, England). 2011 Aug;202(4):671-81

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PMID: 21554558

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