Myosin heavy chain isoform composition and stretch activation kinetics in single fibres ofXenopus laevisiliofibularis muscle Academic Article uri icon


  • Skeletal muscle is composed of specialized fibre types that enable it to fulfil complex and variable functional needs. Muscle fibres of Xenopus laevis, a frog formerly classified as a toad, were the first to be typed based on a combination of physiological, morphological, histochemical and biochemical characteristics. Currently the most widely accepted criterion for muscle fibre typing is the myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform composition because it is assumed that variations of this protein are the most important contributors to functional diversity. Yet this criterion has not been used for classification of Xenopus fibres due to the lack of an effective protocol for MHC isoform analysis. In the present study we aimed to resolve and visualize electrophoretically the MHC isoforms expressed in the iliofibularis muscle of Xenopus laevis, to define their functional identity and to classify the fibres based on their MHC isoform composition. Using a SDS-PAGE protocol that proved successful with mammalian muscle MHC isoforms, we were able to detect five MHC isoforms in Xenopus iliofibularis muscle. The kinetics of stretch-induced force transients (stretch activation) produced by a fibre was strongly correlated with its MHC isoform content indicating that the five MHC isoforms confer different kinetics characteristics. Hybrid fibre types containing two MHC isoforms exhibited stretch activation kinetics parameters that were intermediate between those of the corresponding pure fibre types. These results clearly show that the MHC isoforms expressed in Xenopus muscle are functionally different thereby validating the idea that MHC isoform composition is the most reliable criterion for vertebrate skeletal muscle fibre type classification. Thus, our results lay the foundation for the unequivocal classification of the muscle fibres in the Xenopus iliofibularis muscle and for gaining further insights into skeletal muscle fibre diversity.

publication date

  • July 1, 2006