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How does calcium affect the process of muscle contraction?

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(i) The sarcoplasmic reticulum releases the stored Ca++ which binds with the specific sites present on the troponin component of the thin filament. 

(ii) As a result, conformational change occurs in the troponin molecule and the active sites present on the F-actin molecules are exposed. 

(iii) These sites are specific to myosin head which exhibits Mg++ dependent ATPase activity. 

(iv) During the relaxation of the muscle, the Ca++ is pumped back into the sarcoplasmic reticulum. 

(v) As a result the troponin component becomes free to mask the active sites for myosin head. 

(vi) The cross bridge breaks and thin filament occupies its normal position and muscle relaxes.

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