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Transitional Hybrid Skeletal Muscle Fibers In Rat Soleus Development

L. Larson, J. Lioy, Jordan Johnson, Scott Medler
Published 2019 · Chemistry, Medicine

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Skeletal muscles comprise hundreds of individual muscle fibers, with each possessing specialized contractile properties. Skeletal muscles are recognized as being highly plastic, meaning that the physiological properties of single muscle fibers can change with appropriate use. During fiber type transitions, one myosin heavy chain isoform is exchanged for another and over time the fundamental nature of the fiber adapts to become a different fiber type. Within the rat triceps surae complex, the soleus muscle starts out as a muscle comprised of a mixture type IIA and type I fibers. As neonatal rats grow and mature, the soleus undergoes a near complete transition into a muscle with close to 100% type I fibers at maturity. We used immunohistochemistry and single fiber SDS-PAGE to track the transformation of type IIA into type I fibers. We found that transitioning fibers progressively incorporate new myofibrils containing type I myosin into existing type IIA fibers. During this exchange, distinct type I-containing myofibrils are segregated among IIA myofibrils. The individual myofibrils within existing muscle fibers thus appear to represent the functional unit that is exchanged during fiber type transitions that occur as part of normal muscle development:
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