Ca2+ binding to troponin C (TnC) and myosin cross-bridge binding to actin act in a synergistic cooperative manner to modulate myocardial contraction and relaxation. The responsiveness of the myocardial thin filament to the activating effects of Ca2+ and myosin cross-bridge binding has been well-characterized in small mammals (e.g., mice). Given the nearly 10-fold difference in resting heart rates and twitch kinetics between small and large mammals, it is unlikely that the cooperative mechanisms underlying thin filament activation are identical in these two species. To test this idea, we measured the Ca2+ dependencies of steady-state force and the rate constant of force redevelopment (ktr) in murine and porcine permeabilized ventricular myocardium. While murine myocardium exhibited a steep activation-dependence of ktr, the activation-dependent profile of ktr was significantly reduced in porcine ventricular myocardium. Further insight was attained by examining force–pCa and ktr–pCa relationships. In the murine myocardium, the pCa50 for ktr was right-shifted compared with the pCa50 for force, meaning that increases in steady-state force occurred well before increases in the rate of force redevelopment were observed. In the porcine myocardium, we observed a tighter coupling of the force–pCa and ktr–pCa relationships, as evidenced by near-maximal rates of force redevelopment at low levels of Ca2+ activation. These results demonstrate that the molecular mechanisms underlying the cooperative activation of force are a dynamic property of the mammalian heart, involving, at least in part, the species- and tissue-specific expression of cardiac myosin heavy chain isoforms.

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