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Myofibrillar gene expression in differentiating lobster claw muscles.

  • Medler, Scott
  • Lilley, Travis R
  • Riehl, Jocelyn H
  • Mulder, Eva P
  • Chang, Ernest S
  • Mykles, Donald L
Published Article
Journal of experimental zoology. Part A, Ecological genetics and physiology
Publication Date
May 01, 2007
PMID: 17377955


Lobster claw muscles undergo a process of fiber switching during development, where isomorphic muscles containing a mixture of both fast and slow fibers, become specialized into predominantly fast, or exclusively slow, muscles. Although this process has been described using histochemical methods, we lack an understanding of the shifts in gene expression that take place. In this study, we used several complementary techniques to follow changes in the expression of a number of myofibrillar genes in differentiating juvenile lobster claw muscles. RNA probes complementary to fast and slow myosin heavy chain (MHC) mRNA were used to label sections of 7th stage (approximately 3 months old) juvenile claw muscles from different stages of the molt cycle. Recently molted animals (1-5 days postmolt) had muscles with distinct regions of fast and slow gene expression, whereas muscles from later in the molt cycle (7-37 days postmolt) had regions of fast and slow MHC expression that were co-mingled and indistinct. Real-time PCR was used to quantify several myofibrillar genes in 9th and 10th stages (approximately 6 months old) juvenile claws and showed that these genes were expressed at significantly higher levels in the postmolt claws, as compared with the intermolt and premolt claws. Finally, Western blot analyses of muscle fibers from juvenile lobsters approximately 3 to 30 months in age showed a shift in troponin-I (TnI) isoform expression as the fibers differentiated into the adult phenotypes, with expression of the adult fast fiber TnI pattern lagging behind the adult slow fiber TnI pattern. Collectively, these data show that juvenile and adult fibers differ both qualitatively and quantitative in the expression of myofibrillar proteins and it may take as much as 2 years for juvenile fibers to achieve the adult phenotype.

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