The role of super-relaxed myosin in skeletal and cardiac muscle

James W. McNamara, Amy Li, Cristobal G. dos Remedios, Roger Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


The super-relaxed (SRX) state of myosin was only recently reported in striated muscle. It is characterised by a sub-population of myosin heads with a highly inhibited rate of ATP turnover. Myosin heads in the SRX state are bound to each other along the thick filament core producing a highly ordered arrangement. Upon activation, these heads project into the interfilament space where they can bind to the actin filaments. Thus far, the population and lifetimes of myosin heads in the SRX state have been characterised in rabbit cardiac, and fast and slow skeletal muscle, as well as in the skeletal muscle of the tarantula. These studies suggest that the role of SRX in cardiac and skeletal muscle regulation is tailored to their specific functions. In skeletal muscle, the SRX modulates the resting metabolic rate. Cardiac SRX represents a “reserve” of inactive myosin heads that may protect the heart during times of stress, e.g. hypoxia and ischaemia. These heads may also be called up when there is a sustained demand for increased power. The SRX in cardiac muscle provides a potential target for novel therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • ATP
  • Heart disease
  • Myosin heads
  • Super-relaxation


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