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Eur J Histochem. 2013 Jan 14;57(1):e2. doi: 10.4081/ejh.2013.e2.

Immunological detection of m- and µ-calpains in the skeletal muscle of Marchigiana cattle.

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  • 1Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Sannio, Benevento, Italy.


Calpains are Ca(2+)-dependent proteases able to cleave a large number of proteins involved in many biological functions. Particularly, in skeletal muscle they are involved in meat tenderizing during post mortem storage. In this report we analyzed the presence and expression of µ- and m-calpains in two skeletal muscles of the Marchigiana cattle soon after slaughter, using immunocytochemical and immunohistochemical techniques, Western blotting analysis and Casein Zymography. Therefore, the presence and the activity of these proteases was investigated until 15th day post-mortem during normal process of meat tenderizing. The results showed m- and µ-calpain immunosignals in the cytoplasm both along the Z disk/I band regions and in the form of intracellular stores. Moreover, the expression level of µ-calpain but not m-calpain decreased after 10 days of storage. Such a decrease in µ-calpain was accompanied by a gradual reduction of activity. On the contrary, m-calpain activity persisted up to 15 days of post-mortem storage. Such data indicate that expression and activity of both µ-calpain and m-calpain analyzed in the Marchigiana cattle persist longer than reported in literature for other bovines and may be related to both the type of muscle and breed examined.

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