2 Special Characteristics of Muscle Cells Irritability– The ability to receive and respond to a stimulus.Contractibility – The ability to shorten (forcibly) when an adequate stimulus is received.
3 The Nerve StimulusSkeletal muscle cells must be stimulated by nerve impulses to contract.One motor neuron (nerve cell) may stimulate a few muscle cells or hundreds of them, depending on the muscle!Motor Unit – One neuron and all the muscle cells it stimulates.
4 Neuromuscular Junction Neuromuscular Junction – The region where a motor neuron comes into close contact with a skeletal muscle cell.The nerve fiber or axon (extension of the neuron) branches into a number of axonal terminals.
5 Synaptic CleftSynaptic Cleft – The fluid-filled space between the nerve endings and the muscle cells.Nerve endings and muscle cells come into close contact, but they never touch!
6 NeurotransmittersWhen the nerve impulse reaches the axonal terminals, a chemical referred to as a neurotransmitter is released.The specific neurotransmitter that stimulates skeletal muscle cells is acetylcholine or ACh.Acetylcholine diffuses across the synaptic cleft and attaches to receptors.
7 Action PotentialIf enough ACh is released, the sarcolemma at that point becomes temporarily permeable to sodium ions (Na+), which rush into the muscle cells.This sudden inward rush gives the cells interior an excess of positive ions, which upsets the electrical conditions of the sarcolemma.This “upset” generates an electrical current called an action potential.
9 Action PotentialOnce begun, the action potential is unstoppable (similar to the charring of a twig by a flame)It travels over the entire surface of the sarcolemma, conducting the electrical impulse from one end of the cell to the other.The result is contraction of the muscle cell.
10 Action PotentialThe events that return the cell to its resting state include:Diffusion of potassium (K+) ions out of the cell.Operation of the sodium-potassium pump (moves the sodium and potassium ions back to their initial positions).
11 The Sliding Filament Theory When muscle fibers are activated by the nervous system, the cross bridges attach to myosin binding sites on the thin filaments, and the sliding begins.
12 The Sliding Filament Theory Energized by ATP, each cross bridge attaches and detaches several times during a contraction.Acts much like a tiny oar to generate tension and pull the thin filaments toward the center of the sarcomere.
13 The Sliding Filament Theory As this event occurs simultaneously in sarcomeres throughout the cell, the muscle cell shortens.This whole series of events takes just a few thousandths of a second.
14 Role of Calcium in Contraction The attachment of myosin cross bridges to actin requires calcium ions.The action potential causes the sarcoplasmic reticulum to release stored calcium ions into the sarcoplasm.When the action potential ends, calcium ions are immediately reabsorbed into the SR storage areas, and the muscle cell relaxes and settles back to its original length.
15 Acetylcholine is Broken Down While the action potential is occurring, ACh (which began the process) is broken down by enymes.For this reason, a single nerve impulse produces only one contraction.This prevents continued contraction of the muscle cell.The muscle cell relaxes until stimulated by the next round of ACh release.
16 Graded ResponsesA muscle cell will contract to its fullest extent when it is stimulated adequately; it never partially contracts.Skeletal muscles are organs that consist of thousands of muscle cells, and they react to stimuli with graded responses, or different degrees of shortening.
17 Graded Responses Graded muscle contractions can be produced two ways: By changing the frequency of muscle stimulationBy changing the number of muscle cells being stimulated
18 Muscle Twitches Muscle Twitches - Single, brief, jerky contractions Sometimes result as a result of central nervous system problemsThis is not the way our muscles normally operate.
19 Muscle Response to Increasingly Rapid Stimulation Nerve impulses are delivered to the muscle at a very rapid rate – so rapid that the cells do not get a chance to relax completely between stimuli.As a result, the effects of the successive contractions are “summed” (added) together, and the contraction of the muscle get stronger and smoother.
20 Complete TetanusComplete Tetanus (Fused) – Contractions are completely smooth and sustained.The muscle is stimulated so rapidly that no evidence of relaxation is seen.Primary goal: Produce smooth and prolonged muscle contractions.Produces stronger muscle contractions
21 Incomplete TetanusUntil the point of complete tetanus is reached the muscle is said to be exhibiting unfused or incomplete tetanus.Some evidence of relaxation is seen.
22 Muscle Response to Stronger Stimuli How forcefully a muscle contracts depends to a large extent how many of its cells are stimulated.When only a few cells are stimulated, the contraction of the muscle as a whole will be slight.When all the motor units are active and all the muscle cells are being stimulated, the muscle contraction is as strong as it can get.