Signaling pathways regulate contraction of striated (skeletal and cardiac) and smooth muscle. Although these are similar, there are striking differences in the pathways that can be attributed to the distinct functional roles of the different muscle types. Muscles contract in response to depolarization, activation of G-protein-coupled receptors and other stimuli. The actomyosin fibers responsible for contraction require an increase in the cytosolic levels of calcium, which signaling pathways induce by promoting influx from extracellular sources or release from intracellular stores. Rises in cytosolic calcium stimulate numerous downstream calcium-dependent signaling pathways, which can also regulate contraction. Alterations to the signaling pathways that initiate and sustain contraction and relaxation occur as a consequence of exercise and pathophysiological conditions.
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2015 Feb 2;7(2):a006023. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a006023.