Cardiac muscle cells are equipped with specialized biochemical machineries for the rapid generation of force and movement central to the work generated by the heart. During each heart beat cardiac muscle cells perceive and experience changes in length and load, which reflect one of the fundamental principles of physiology known as the Frank-Starling law of the heart. Cardiac muscle cells are unique mechanical stretch sensors that allow the heart to increase cardiac output, and adjust it to new physiological and pathological situations. In the present review we discuss the mechano-sensory role of the cytoskeletal proteins with respect to their tight interaction with the sarcolemma and extracellular matrix. The role of contractile thick and thin filament proteins, the elastic protein titin, and their anchorage at the Z-disc and M-band, with associated proteins are reviewed in physiologic and pathologic conditions leading to heart failure. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Reciprocal influences between cell cytoskeleton and membrane channels, receptors and transporters. Guest Editor: Jean Claude Hervé
Keywords: Cardiomyocyte; Costamere; Cytoskeleton; Heart failure.