Myosin light chain phosphorylation in vertebrate striated muscle: Regulation and function

H. L. Sweeney, B. F. Bowman, J. T. Stull

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

379 Scopus citations


The regulatory light chain of myosin (RLC) is phosphorylated in striated muscles by Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent myosin light chain kinase. Unique biochemical and cellular properties of this phosphorylation system in fast- twitch skeletal muscle maintain RLC in the phosphorylated form for a prolonged period after a brief tetanus or during low-frequency repetitive stimulation. This phosphorylation correlates with potentiation of the rate of development and maximal extent of isometric twitch tension. In skinned fibers, RLC phosphorylation increases force production at low levels of Ca2+ activation, via a leftward shift of the force-pCa relationship, and increases the rate of force development over a wide range of activation levels. In heart and slow-twitch skeletal muscle, the functional consequences of RLC phosphorylation are probably similar, and the primary physiological determinants are phosphorylation and dephosphorylation properties unique to each muscle. The mechanism for these physiological responses probably involves movement of the phosphorylated myosin cross bridges away from the thick-filament backbone. The movement of cross bridges may also contribute to the regulation of myosin interactions with actin in vertebrate smooth and invertebrate striated muscles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C1085-C1095
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number5 33-5
StatePublished - 1993


  • contraction
  • heart
  • protein kinase
  • protein phosphatase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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