Myosin filament polymerization and depolymerization in a model of partial length adaptation in airway smooth muscle

Gijs Ijpma, Ahmed M. Al-Jumaily, Simeon P. Cairns, Gary C. Sieck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Length adaptation in airway smooth muscle (ASM) is attributed to reorganization of the cytoskeleton, and in particular the contractile elements. However, a constantly changing lung volume with tidal breathing (hence changing ASM length) is likely to restrict full adaptation of ASM for force generation. There is likely to be continuous length adaptation of ASM between states of incomplete or partial length adaption. We propose a new model that assimilates findings on myosin filament polymerization/ depolymerization, partial length adaptation, isometric force, and shortening velocity to describe this continuous length adaptation process. In this model, the ASM adapts to an optimal force-generating capacity in a repeating cycle of events. Initially the myosin filament, shortened by prior length changes, associates with two longer actin filaments. The actin filaments are located adjacent to the myosin filaments, such that all myosin heads overlap with actin to permit maximal cross-bridge cycling. Since in this model the actin filaments are usually longer than myosin filaments, the excess length of the actin filament is located randomly with respect to the myosin filament. Once activated, the myosin filament elongates by polymerization along the actin filaments, with the growth limited by the overlap of the actin filaments. During relaxation, the myosin filaments dissociate from the actin filaments, and then the cycle repeats. This process causes a gradual adaptation of force and instantaneous adaptation of shortening velocity. Good agreement is found between model simulations and the experimental data depicting the relationship between force development, myosin filament density, or shortening velocity and length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-742
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Asthma
  • Force adaptation
  • Shortening velocity
  • Smooth muscle mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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