Cardiac sarcomere mechanics in health and disease


  • C. Crocini
  • M. Gotthardt


  • Biophysical Reviews


  • Biophys Rev 13 (5): 637-652


  • The sarcomere is the fundamental structural and functional unit of striated muscle and is directly responsible for most of its mechanical properties. The sarcomere generates active or contractile forces and determines the passive or elastic properties of striated muscle. In the heart, mutations in sarcomeric proteins are responsible for the majority of genetically inherited cardiomyopathies. Here, we review the major determinants of cardiac sarcomere mechanics including the key structural components that contribute to active and passive tension. We dissect the molecular and structural basis of active force generation, including sarcomere composition, structure, activation, and relaxation. We then explore the giant sarcomere-resident protein titin, the major contributor to cardiac passive tension. We discuss sarcomere dynamics exemplified by the regulation of titin-based stiffness and the titin life cycle. Finally, we provide an overview of therapeutic strategies that target the sarcomere to improve cardiac contraction and filling.