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What is a Myofibril?

Myofibril: the name of the topic itself gives sleepless nights to many students because of its mammoth size. Are you one of those students? Don't worry; Vedantu is here to help you. Vedantu understands how difficult and stressful it can be for you to get through the entire topic. Therefore our subject matter experts have brought the entire topic within your reach in the easiest way possible. This topic is started by introducing you to the meaning of a myofibril.

A myofibril is also known as a muscle fibril. The myofibril is a basic rod-like unit of the muscle cell. Myocytes are the tubular cells that the muscles are made up of. The myocytes are also known as the muscle fibres in the striated muscle, and these cells also contain many chains of myofibrils. During myogenesis, the myocytes are considered to be created at the embryonic development stage. 

The myofibrils are mainly composed of many long proteins such as myosin, actin, and titin, and also other proteins hold them together. All these proteins are organised into thick and thin filaments which are called myofilaments. The myofilaments keep repeating themselves along the length of the myofibril in the section called the sarcomeres. The contraction of muscles happens when there is sliding between the thick (myosin)and thin (actin) filaments along with each other.

In this article, we are going to discuss the muscle, the definition of myofibril, its structure, function, and also a few frequently asked questions that will be answered.

 

The Muscle 

A large fraction of the total body weight in humans is constituted by the striped or the striated muscles. The maintenance of the body posture and the movements of the libs is done when there is a contraction in the striated muscles. The striated muscles are also called the skeletal muscle, as both ends of the striated muscles articulate the skeleton. The skeletal or striated muscles are attached to the bones by the tendons, which have the elasticity provided by the protein collagen and elastic, which are considered the major components of the tendons.

There are blood vessels and nerves which are associated with each striated muscle. These blood vessels help transport the blood to and from the muscle, supply oxygen and other nutrients and remove the unnecessary carbon dioxide and other waste from the blood. Through the motor nerves, some signals are sent from the central nervous system to the muscles that initiate the contraction of the muscles. There is also a response that the muscle gives to the hormones that are produced by the endocrine glands. These hormones also interact with the complementary receptors which are present on the surface of the cells which helps in initiating the specific reaction.

There are important sensory structures associated with each muscle called the stretch receptors that help in monitoring the state of the muscle and also return all the information to the central nervous system. The change in the length of the muscle and the velocity of the movement of the muscle are the two things that the stretch receptors are sensitive to. The stretch receptors are responsible for completing a feedback system that allows the central nervous system to assess the movement of the muscles and also to adjust the motor signals in the light of the movement.

 

Myofibril Definition 

The myofibril is a component of the animal skeletal muscle. Myofibrils are very fine contractile fibres, and many groups of myofibrils are extended in the parallel columns along the length of the striated muscle fibres. The myofibrils and the resulting myofibers may be several centimetres in length. The myofibrils are composed of many thick and thin myofilaments that help in giving the muscle its striated appearance. The thick filaments are composed of myosin, and the thin filaments are composed of actin and have other muscle proteins such as tropomyosin and troponin. The myofibrils are made up of repeated subunits which are called the sarcomeres.

The muscular contraction happens due to the interaction between the actin and the myosin filaments when they are temporarily bound and released. The muscle fibres are single multinucleated cells that usually combine to form a muscle.

 

Structure of Myofibril 

The structure of a myofibril consists of types of myofilaments. These myofilaments are the individual filaments of actin or myosin that make up a myofibril.

There are Two Types of Myofilaments That the Myofibrils are Made of -

  • Thin Filaments: The thin filaments primarily consist of the protein actin which is coiled with the nebulin filaments. When the polymerization of the actin filament happens, there is a formation of a ladder along which the myosin filament climbs to generate the motion. 

  • The Thick Filament: The thick filament is primarily composed of the protein called myosin. The responsibility of the protein myosin is forced generation. Myosin is composed of a globular head that has both Adenosine triphosphate(ATP) and actin-binding sites and also a long tail that is involved in its polymerization into the myosin filaments.  

  • Actinomycin is the name given to the protein complex, which is composed of both actin and myosin. 

  • The striated muscle such as that of the skeletal and the cardiac muscle have actin and myosin filaments that are of specific and constant length which are of the order of a few millimetres. These are very small when compared to the elongated muscle cells which are of the length in the centimetres. 

  • The myofilaments are organised into repeated subunits along the length of the myofibrils. These subunits are called the sarcomeres.

  • Myofibrils fill the muscle cells which run parallel to each other on the long axis of the cell.

  • The sarcomeric subunits of one myofibril are in perfect alignment with the myofibrils which are next to it, and this alignment causes the cells to look striated or striped.

  • In the case of smooth muscle cells, there is no alignment. Hence there are no striations, and hence the cells are called smooth.

 

How to Label the Myofibril and Its Components?

The Diagram Given below Shows How to Label the Myofibril and Its Components.

The diagram of Myofibril has been asked in exams several times, mostly as a three marker question. Thus it is recommended for you to practise it several times to master its construction. Also, make sure the diagram is properly labelled. 

  • The skeletal muscle cells are long and cylindrical, and they are also referred to as the muscle fibres or myofibers. The skeletal muscle fibres are very large when compared to other cells. They have lengths up to 30 cm and a diameter which is up to 100 micrometres, and this is the example of the sartorius of the upper leg. 

  • The skeletal muscle fibres contain cellular organelles found in other cells such as mitochondria which are also called the powerhouse of the cell membrane.

  • The plasma membrane of the muscle fibres is called the sarcolemma. The sarcolemma is derived from the Greek word ‘Sarco’, which means flesh. The cytoplasm of the sarcolemma is called the sarcoplasm. 

  • Within the muscle fibres, the myofibrils are present that store the proteins in an organised manner. The myofibrils that run the length of the cell contain sarcomere, which is connected in series.

  • There are hundreds and thousands of myofibrils which are only about 1.2 micrometres in diameter which have thousands of sarcomeres and that can be found inside one muscle fibre.

  • In the muscle fibre, the sarcomere is considered to be the smallest functional unit, and it also has a very organised arrangement of the contractile, regulatory, and structural proteins. 

  • The shortening of the individual sarcomeres leads to the contraction of the individual muscle fibres.

 

The Appearance of the Myofibrils 

It sometimes becomes difficult for students to visualise the appearance of Myofibrils without a microscopic view of the same. Thus Vedantu has brought a very detailed description of a myofibril for you.

  • When viewed through the light microscope, it is seen that there are various subregions of the sarcomeres. The names of the sub-regions in the sarcomere are based on their relative darker or lighter colour appearance when viewed through the light microscope. 

  • There are two dark-coloured bands called the Z-disc or the Z line, with which each sarcomere is delimited. 

  • The Z-disc or the Z-lines are dense protein discs that do not allow the passage of light. The T-tubules are present in the Z-disc area.

  • The area present between the Z-disc is further divided into two light-coloured bands at either end, which is called the I-bands, and in the middle region, there is a presence of a darker, greyish band called the A-band. 

  • The I bands appear to be very light because this region of the sarcomere is mainly contained very thin actin filaments that have a very small diameter as a result of which allows the passage of light between them. The I in the I-band stand for isotropic. Isotropy means to have identical values of a property in all directions. 

  • The A band is mainly composed of myosin filaments. The myosin filament has a very large diameter, and as a result, it restricts the passage of light. The A in the A-band stands for anisotropic. Anisotropy is the property of the material that allows it to change or assume different properties in a direction. 

  • The part between the A-band and the I-band is occupied by both the actin and the myosin filaments.

  • There is a presence of a relatively brighter central region in the A-band called the H-zone. There is no overlapping of the action and the myosin in the H-zone when the muscle is in a relaxed position. H in the H-zone is the German word helle which means bright. 

  • M-line is a dark central line that bisects the H-zone. The M in M-line comes from the German word mittel, which means middle. The M-line also contains the enzymes that help in energy metabolism.

 

Functions of Myofibril 

Myofibrils perform various functions that help in overall locomotion and movement in humans. These functions are as follows:  

  • The sarcomeres are considered the building blocks of the myofibrils which are the functional unit of the muscle.

  • The main function of myofibrils is to perform muscle contraction. There is an incomplete overlap between the thin and the thick filaments when the muscle is at rest.

  • When there is a contraction of the muscles, there is a shortening in the length of the sarcomeres due to the thick and thin filaments sliding over each other, which results in the overlap between the filaments, and there is also a shortening of the H-zone and the I band. The length of the myofilaments does not change even when the sarcomere length decreases during the muscle contraction.

  • The hydrolysis of the Adenosine triphosphate(ATP) to Adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and other inorganic phosphates powers the movement of the myofilament. 

  • The ATP molecule is attached to the globular myosin head on the filaments when it is at rest. When the ATP is hydrolysed, the myosin head changes conformation and forms an attachment known as the cross-bridge thin filament.

  • The myosin head again changes conformation and pushes the thin filament towards the centre of the sarcomere as soon as the ADP and the phosphate molecules are released. 

  • The myosin head then again gets bonded to the new ATP molecule. After that, the head returns to its initial conformation and then releases the thin filament in its new position nearer to the central M-line.

  • There is the repetition of this cycle where the ATP molecule gets hydrolyzed into the ADP and inorganic phosphate and the myosin head changes conformation which results in the thin filament that gets pushed towards the centre of the sarcomere.

  • Each thick filament has hundreds of myosin heads that are capable of forming cross-bridges with the thin filaments about five times per second. The muscle contraction happens due to the continuous contractions of the myofibrils. 

  • ATP is powered by muscle contractions. The muscle fibres are capable of storing only a very small amount of ATP and as a result of which there is a requirement of energy and that requirement is fulfilled by two other compounds stored in the muscles which are creatine phosphate and glycogen.

  • To provide a short-term burst of energy for almost twenty seconds, the ATP that is stored in the muscle fibres and the ATP that is formed by creatine phosphate is used.

  • Glycogen can also be used as the long-term energy source as the glycogen gets broken down to glucose which is later converted to ATP through the process of glycolysis and aerobic respiration.

 

Conclusion 

After reading the write up you can understand how important myofibrils are for the functioning of the muscles in humans. You have been acquainted with its definition, structure, function, appearance and diagram. 

All the above-mentioned information will ensure that you can answer any question asked in the exam, not just in the theory exam but also in your Class 11 practical Biology exams.

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FAQs on Myofibril

1. How important is myofibril - components, appearance, structure, function and faqs for biology exams?

The topic of Myofibril - Components, Appearance, Structure, Function and FAQs forms a part of a very important topic in biology from which questions are asked every year in the school as well as the board biology exams. You can expect either a 3 or 4 marker from this question directly. They may also ask questions about this topic in MCQs. Also, in medical entrance exams such as NEET and JIPMER, questions are asked very frequently. You can expect at least 1-2 questions from this and other associated topics. Thus you can gauge how important this topic is for you.

2. What topics are to be studied in the myofibril topic?

A variety of questions can be formed from the topic of Myofibril - Components, Appearance, Structure, Function and FAQs. You can expect MCQs, 3 or 4 marker questions, a diagram of Myofibrils, questions based on its structure, etc. Thus to tackle such questions in the exam you need to be thorough with the concept which includes, the definition of myofibrils, its components, structure, appearance and diagram, functions, and a lot more. You can refer to Vedantu’s web content given above.

3. How much time should i dedicate towards studying myofibril - components, appearance, structure, function and faqs?

The amount of time one decides to dedicate to any topic can be determined by going through the previous year papers only. Thus to understand how much time you need to dedicate to Myofibril - Components, Appearance, Structure, Function and FAQs, you need to go through the previous year question papers. Vedantu suggests instead of focusing on the amount of time you need to dedicate towards completing the topic, focus on the understanding part of it. Because in the exam, your conceptual clarity will fetch you marks. You can solve Vedantu’s sample question papers available on the website for free to manage the time.

4. What all topics should i study before studying myofibril - components, appearance, structure, function and faqs?

The topic of Myofibril - Components, Appearance, Structure, Function and FAQs is related to the chapter on Locomotion and movement in CBSE Class 11 Biology. Myofibril is a type of filament. Thus before starting this topic, know the meaning of various terms and components involved in locomotion such as muscle, types of muscle, types of movement etc. You can refer to the solutions of NCERT CLass 11 Chapter 20 Locomotion and Movement to understand the demand of the topic in detail.

5. How many types of myofilaments are found in the myofibril?

There are two types of myofilaments that are found in the myofibril, the thick and the thin filament. The thick is made up of myosin and the thin filaments are made up of actin.

6. What is the function of myofibrils?

Sarcomeres are the functional unit of the muscles and the myofibrils are made of sarcomeres. The main function of the myofibrils is to perform muscle contraction.


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