Myocyte

A myocyte (also known as a muscle cell) is the type of cell found in muscle tissue. Myocytes are long, tubular cells that develop from myoblasts to form muscles in a process known as myogenesis. There are various specialized forms of myocytes with distinct properties: cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscle cells. The striated cells of cardiac and skeletal muscles are referred to as muscle fibers. Cardiomyocytes are the muscle fibres that form the chambers of the heart, and have a single central nucleus. Skeletal muscle fibers help support and move the body and tend to have peripheral nuclei. Smooth muscle cells control involuntary movements such as the peristalsis contractions in the oesophagus and stomach.

The sarcoplasmic reticulum, a specialized type of smooth endoplasmic reticulum, forms a network around each myofibril of the muscle fiber. This network is composed of groupings of two dilated end-sacs called terminal cisternae, and a single transverse tubule, or T tubule, which bores through the cell and emerge on the other side; together these three components form the triads that exist within the network of the sarcoplasmic reticulum, in which each T tubule has two terminal cisternae on each side of it. The sarcoplasmic reticulum serves as reservoir for calcium ions, so when an action potential spreads over the T tubule, it signals the sarcoplasmic reticulum to release calcium ions from the gated membrane channels to stimulate a muscle contraction.

The cell membrane is anchored to the cell's cytoskeleton by anchor fibers that are approximately 10 nm wide. These are generally located at the Z lines so that they form grooves and transverse tubules emanate. In cardiac myocytes this forms a scalloped surface.

Myocytes are bound together by perimysium into bundles called fascicles; the bundles are then grouped together to form muscle tissue, which is enclosed in a sheath of epimysium. The perimysium contains blood vessels and nerves which provide for the muscle fibers. Muscle spindles are distributed throughout the muscles and provide sensory feedback information to the central nervous system. Myosin is shaped like a long shaft with a rounded end pointed out towards the surface. This structure forms the cross bridge that connects with the thin filaments.

Myoblasts in skeletal muscle that do not form muscle fibers dedifferentiate back into myosatellite cells. These satellite cells remain adjacent to a skeletal muscle fiber, situated between the sarcolemma and the basement membrane of the endomysium (the connective tissue investment that divides the muscle fascicles into individual fibers). To re-activate myogenesis, the satellite cells must be stimulated to differentiate into new fibers.

There are four main different types of muscle contraction: twitch, treppe, tetanus and isometric/isotonic. Twitch contraction is the process in which a single stimulus signals for a single contraction. In twitch contraction the length of the contraction may vary depending on the size of the muscle cell. During treppe (or summation) contraction muscles do not start at maximum efficiency; instead they achieve increased strength of contraction due to repeated stimuli. Tetanus involves a sustained contraction of muscles due to a series of rapid stimuli, which can continue until the muscles fatigue. Isometric contractions are skeletal muscle contractions that do not cause movement of the muscle. However, isotonic contractions are skeletal muscle contractions that do cause movement.

Traditionally, fibers were categorized depending on their varying color, which is a reflection of myoglobin content. Type I fibers appear red due to the high levels of myoglobin. Red muscle fibers tend to have more mitochondria and greater local capillary density. These fibers are more suited for endurance and are slow to fatigue because they use oxidative metabolism to generate ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Less oxidative type II fibers are white due to relatively low myoglobin and a reliance on glycolytic enzymes.

The total number of skeletal muscle fibers has traditionally been thought not to change. It is believed there are no sex or age differences in fiber distribution; however, proportions of fiber types vary considerably from muscle to muscle and person to person. Sedentary men and women (as well as young children) have 45% type II and 55% type I fibers. People at the higher end of any sport tend to demonstrate patterns of fiber distribution e.g. endurance athletes show a higher level of type I fibers. Sprint athletes, on the other hand, require large numbers of type IIX fibers. Middle distance event athletes show approximately equal distribution of the two types. This is also often the case for power athletes such as throwers and jumpers. It has been suggested that various types of exercise can induce changes in the fibers of a skeletal muscle. It is thought that if you perform endurance type events for a sustained period of time, some of the type IIX fibers transform into type IIA fibers. However, there is no consensus on the subject. It may well be that the type IIX fibers show enhancements of the oxidative capacity after high intensity endurance training which brings them to a level at which they are able to perform oxidative metabolism as effectively as slow twitch fibers of untrained subjects. This would be brought about by an increase in mitochondrial size and number and the associated related changes, not a change in fiber type.

DEFINITIONS OF EPIGENETICS

MOLECULAR BASIS OF EPIGENETICS

MECHANISMS OF EPIGENETICS

EPIGENETICS IN BACTERIA

MEDICINE AND EPIGENETICS

PSYHOLOGY AND PSYCHIATRY OF EPIGENETICS

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