The developmental program of fast myosin heavy chain expression in avian skeletal muscles

Michael T. Crow, Frank E. Stockdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have examined the types of fast myosin heavy chains (MHCs) expressed in a number of different developing chicken skeletal muscles by combining peptide mapping and immunoblotting to identify fast MHC-specific peptides among the total mixture of MHC digestion products. Using this technique, we have identified three different fast MHC patterns among the different fast and mixed (i.e., fast and slow) fiber type muscles of the adult. While the different muscles all underwent sequential changes in fast MHC isoform expression during their development, the exact sequence of these changes and the isoform patterns expressed varied from muscle to muscle. During late embryonic or fetal development, all muscles expressed a similar fast MHC pattern (designated here as the fetal pattern) which was replaced shortly after hatching with a different fast MHC pattern (the neonatal pattern). During the transition from the neonatal to the adult state that occurred sometime in the first year after hatching, many of the muscles underwent additional changes in fast MHC isoform expression. In muscles such as the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, a new fast MHC isoform pattern was seen in the adult so that the developmental program of isoform switching in these muscles involved the sequential appearance of distinct fetal, neonatal, and adult fast MHCs. Other muscles, such as the sartorius and posterior latissimus dorsi, underwent a qualitatively different program of isoform switching and expressed as an adult a fast MHC pattern that was indistinguishable from that expressed during fetal development. Finally, in some muscles, such as the superficial biceps, no change in isoform pattern was detected during the neonatal to adult transition-in these muscles, expression of the neonatal MHC isoform pattern apparently persisted into the adult state. These data indicate that no single scheme or program of fast MHC isoform switching can describe all the developmental changes that occur in fast MHC isoform expression in the chicken and that at least three different programs of isoform switching and expression can be identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-342
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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