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Muscle Exam Short Answer: Answer 2/3 or all 3 for 

extra credit (5 pts each)

Answers are to be typed and handed on 1/9/06. If you do not bring in the 
short answers, then you will have to write it in class (without using 
the textbook).

If you are absent, the answers must be handed in when you return to 
class but extra credit will not be given. If you do not bring in the 
short answers when you return to class, then you will have to write it 
in class (without using the textbook).

1. Describe the steps in excitation­contraction coupling, the sliding 
filament theory, and muscle relaxation.

A motor neuron sends an excitatory signal to calcium channels, which

releases synaptic vesicles containing acetylcholine. ACh binds to receptors,
which release potassium and sodium ions – the resulting depolarization
travels across the sarcolemma, down the transverse tubules, and causes the
terminal cisternae to secrete calcium ions. These calcium ions bind to
troponin molecules, changing their chemical structure and causing the
tropomyosin strands to move away from the actin active sites. Actin reacts
with myosin (an ATP enzyme) and the break-up of ATP releases mechanical
energy - the thick filament myosin reacts with the thin filament actin in such
a way that the filaments “slide” closer to each other. Muscle contracts.
Relaxation occurs once no more calcium is secreted to activate the
contraction process (existing calcium is pumped back to the terminal
cisternae via active transport, so ATP is required in relaxation as well as
contraction). Tropomyosin blocks actin active sites once more, so no energy is

2. Sally Gorgeous, an avid jogger, is running down the beach when she 
meets Sunny Beachbum, an avid weight­lifter. Sunny flirts with Sally, 
who decides he has more muscles than brains. She runs down the beach, 
but Sunny runs after her. After about a half mile, Sunny tires and gives 

A)Compare/contrast the three different types (types I, IIA and 
IIB) of muscle fibers (resistance to fatigue, energy pathways, 
mitochondria, myosin isoform, color).
B) Explain why Sally was able to outrun Sunny (i.e. do more 
muscular work) despite the fact that she obviously is less 

A) Type I muscle fiber is slow, with a long twitch period, and weak due to low
numbers of ATP enzymes and protein markers for glycolysis (despite high
numbers of glycolysis coenzymes like NADH, oddly enough). Type I fibers
have high stamina because since they do not perform glycolysis (lactic acid
does not build up); instead there are large numbers of mitochondria and
myoglobin as well as high capillary vasculation (requisites for aerobic
respiration). Due to the myoglobin (and the iron it contains), Type I muscles
appear red. These fibers are found in the soleus and postural muscles (e.g.
erector spinae). Myosin heavy chain isoform for Type I muscle is the same as
cardiac beta muscle.
Type IIA fiber is fast oxidatively (meaning, in terms of aerobic respiration,
and also high in mitochondria, myoglobin, and capillaries) and fast
glycolytically (which is anaerobic, and requires high numbers of ATPases and
glycolytic enzymes). They contract fast due to more terminal cisternae but
also have a fair bit of resistance to fatigue, though not as much as Type I.
Type IIB fibers are similar to Type IIA, but have poor aerobic respiratory
qualities (low mitochondria and myoglobin, which incidentally is why they are
white, since myoglobin is not present in appreciable quantities) and even
higher contraction speeds and strength. They may be unused fibers that
transform into Type IA once a motor neuron recruits them – so, a person
undergoing aerobic training will develop more stamina. Short sprinters, shot-
putters, and weight lifters benefit from high Type IIB fibers since they need
power more than endurance (lactic acid builds up fast with glycolysis) , while
longer distance runners/cyclers, and contact sports athletes will develop Type
I for a good balance of power and stamina. Type II fibers are found in the
gastrocnemius, biceps, etc. MHC isoform is Type 2a for Type IIA, and Type 2b
and 2x for Type IIB.

B) Sally has a greater ratio of Type IIA to Type IIB fibers, and Sunny is more
Type IIB. Sunny is a good sprinter, and may have even caught Sally if her leg
muscles had not been strong enough to keep her away from Sunny until he
became too fatigued from lactic acid buildup.

3. Draw and label the parts of a sarcomere in a resting muscle. Be sure 
to include the I band, the A band, the H zone, the Z disk, the M line, 
thin and thick filaments and the zone of overlap. Describe the 
structural changes that occur during a contraction.