First Advisor

Jonathan J. Abramson

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics






Muscle contraction, Sarcoplasmic reticulum, Human mechanics, Calcium, Thiols, Chlorine



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, ix, 52 p.)


One advantage of higher life-forms over less developed organisms is their ability to respond to signals from their environment with motion. This requires highly specialized contractile cells and a whole locomotion apparatus. In vertebrates, the cells responsible for movement are the skeletal muscle cells. They receive signals from the autonomic nervous system in the form of an action potential, and they contract in an appropriate manner. Calcium is a vital intracellular passenger whose role in muscular function is to initiate contraction. It is released via specific channel proteins from an internal Ca++ store, the sarcoplasmic reticulum, and triggers muscular contraction, the actual interplay of actin and myosin filaments. The step that is still not fully understood is the coupling process between arrival of an action potential and the subsequent contraction, called excitation-contraction coupling. Several theories have been proposed to explain this process. Some years ago, our laboratory introduced the hypothesis that an oxidation-reduction reaction of critical sulfhydryls associated with the Ca+t channel protein are involved in the regulation of channel gating. In an effort to understand more about the Ca++ channel gating mechanism at the molecular level, this thesis focuses on the interaction between o-phthalaldehyde, a reagent which specifically forms an isoindole derivative with the amino acids cysteine and lysine, and the Ca++ release channel complex. In this thesis, the planar lipid bilayer technique was used to study the Ca++ release channel protein from skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum at the single channel level. Utilizing this experimental technique, the direct interaction between OP A and the channel was investigated. In this study, it was shown that the interaction of o-phthalaldehyde with the channel increases the channel's open probability as well as its mean open time. Furthermore, the covalent nature of o-phthalaldehyde binding to the calcium release channel complex is shown and its inhibiting effects on chloride channels are demonstrated.


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