Alpha and beta myosin isoforms and human atrial and ventricular contraction.
Human atrial and ventricular contractions have distinct mechanical characteristics including speed of contraction, volume of blood delivered and the range of pressure generated. Notably, the ventricle expresses predominantly β-cardiac myosin while the atrium expresses mostly the α-isoform. In recent years exploration of the properties of pure α- & β-myosin isoforms have been possible in solution, in isolated myocytes and myofibrils. This allows us to consider the extent to which the atrial vs ventricular mechanical characteristics are defined by the myosin isoform expressed, and how the isoform properties are matched to their physiological roles. To do this we Outline the essential feature of atrial and ventricular contraction; Explore the molecular structural and functional characteristics of the two myosin isoforms; Describe the contractile behaviour of myocytes and myofibrils expressing a single myosin isoform; Finally we outline the outstanding problems in defining the differences between the atria and ventricles. This allowed us consider what features of contraction can and cannot be ascribed to the myosin isoforms present in the atria and ventricles.