Calcium, Thin Filaments, and the Integrative Biology of Cardiac Contractility

Annu Rev Physiol. 2005;67:39-67. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.67.040403.114025.


Although well known as the location of the mechanism by which the cardiac sarcomere is activated by Ca2+ to generate force and shortening, the thin filament is now also recognized as a vital component determining the dynamics of contraction and relaxation. Molecular signaling in the thin filament involves steric, allosteric, and cooperative mechanisms that are modified by protein phosphorylation, sarcomere length and load, the chemical environment, and isoform composition. Approaches employing transgenesis and mutagenesis now permit investigation of these processes at the level of the systems biology of the heart. These studies reveal that the thin filaments are not merely slaves to the levels of Ca2+ determined by membrane channels, transporters and exchangers, but are actively involved in beat to beat control of cardiac function by neural and hormonal factors and by the Frank-Starling mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology*


  • Calcium