Contractile filament architecture and force transmission in swine airway smooth muscle.

TitleContractile filament architecture and force transmission in swine airway smooth muscle.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsKuo, K-H, Seow, CY
JournalJ Cell Sci
IssuePt 8
Date Published2004 Mar 15
KeywordsActins, Animals, Muscle, Smooth, Stress, Mechanical, Swine, Trachea

It is well known that the cyclic interaction of myosin cross bridges with actin filaments is responsible for force and shortening generation in smooth muscle. The intracellular organization of contractile filaments, however, is still poorly understood. Here, we show electron microscopic and functional evidence that contractile filaments in airway smooth muscle lie parallel to the longitudinal axis of the cell bundle, in contrast to the obliquely arranged filaments depicted in conventional models. The parallel arrangement of contractile filaments is maintained despite the fact that individual cells are spindle-shaped. This is accomplished through filament attachment to membrane-associated dense plaques that are in turn connected to similar structures on neighboring cells. Intracellularly, the parallel arrangement is maintained despite the centrally located nucleus. This is accomplished by attachment of actin filaments to the nuclear envelope and making the nucleus a force transmitting structure. The results suggest that smooth muscle cells in tissue form a mechanical syncytium and are able to function properly only as a group.

Alternate JournalJ. Cell. Sci.
PubMed ID15020677