We have devised a simple method for measuring tension development of single myofibrils by micromanipulation with a pair of glass micro-needles. The tension was estimated from the deflection of a flexible needle under an inverted phase-contrast microscope equipped with an image processor, so that the tension development is always accompanied by the shortening of the myofibril (auxotonic condition) in the present setup. The advantage of this method is that the measurement of tension (1/30 s for time resolution and about 0.05 micrograms for accuracy of tension measurement; 0.05 microns as a spatial resolution for displacement of the micro-needle) and the observation of sarcomere structure are possible at the same time, and the technique to hold myofibrils, even single myofibrils, is very simple. This method has been applied to study the tension development of glycerinated skeletal myofibrils under the condition where spontaneous oscillation of sarcomeres is induced, i.e., the coexistence of MgATP, MgADP and inorganic phosphate without free Ca2+. Under this condition, we found that the tension of myofibrils spontaneously oscillates accompanied by the oscillation of sarcomere length with a main period of a few seconds; the period was lengthened and shortened with stretch and release of myofibrils. A possible mechanism of the oscillation is discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas