Microscopy research and technique

Myosin isoforms, muscle fiber types, and transitions.

PMID 10998639


Skeletal muscle is an extremely heterogeneous tissue composed of a variety of fast and slow fiber types and subtypes. Moreover, muscle fibers are versatile entities capable of adjusting their phenotypic properties in response to altered functional demands. Major differences between muscle fiber types relate to their myosin complement, i.e., isoforms of myosin light and heavy chains. Myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoforms appear to represent the most appropriate markers for fiber type delineation. On this basis, pure fiber types are characterized by the expression of a single MHC isoform, whereas hybrid fiber type express two or more MHC isoforms. Hybrid fibers bridge the gap between the pure fiber types. The fiber population of skeletal muscles, thus, encompasses a continuum of pure and hybrid fiber types. Under certain conditions, changes can be induced in MHC isoform expression heading in the direction of either fast-to-slow or slow-to-fast. Increased neuromuscular activity, mechanical loading, and hypothyroidism are conditions that induce fast-to-slow transitions, whereas reduced neuromuscular activity, mechanical unloading, and hyperthyroidism cause transitions in the slow-to-fast direction.