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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004 Feb;130(2):217-22.

Differential expression of myosin heavy chain isoforms between abductor and adductor muscles in the human larynx.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.



This study examines the differential expression of myosin heavy chain (MyHC) components in human laryngeal muscle groups.


A battery of monospecific monoclonal antibodies in Western blots was used to determine expression of IIX, extraocular-specific (EOM), and IIB MyHCs for the thyroarytenoid (TA), vocalis (VOC), lateral cricoarytenoid (LCA), cricothyroid (CT), and posterior cricoarytenoid (PCA) muscles obtained from fresh cadaver specimens.


Fast IIX MyHC was only expressed in the TA, VOC, and LCA muscles. Fast IIA and slow MyHCs were expressed in all laryngeal muscles including the CT and PCA. The CT with mixed phonatory and respiratory function and the PCA with respiratory function did not express IIX MyHC. The 2 MyHC isoforms associated with the highest speeds of contraction in rat laryngeal muscle, namely, the EOM MyHC and IIB MyHC, were not detected in human laryngeal muscles. Novel MyHC bands were not detected in SDS-PAGE gels or Western blots using a broad specificity MyHC antibody.


The profile of MyHC expression in human laryngeal muscles differs from that observed in human extraocular and masticator muscles, and other mammalian species. Our data demonstrate that IIX MyHC expression is associated primarily with muscles affecting glottic closure and is absent in CT and PCA.


A higher percentage of IIX MyHC is expected to impart a high speed of shortening to the TA and LCA muscles. The absence of IIX MyHC in muscles with respiratory (PCA) and mixed respiratory/phonatory function (CT) further supports the inference that the physiologic difference between laryngeal muscles is reflected in the molecular composition of contractile protein.

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