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Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Jul;144(3):271-82. Epub 2006 Mar 6.

Morphometry, ultrastructure, myosin isoforms, and metabolic capacities of the "mini muscles" favoured by selection for high activity in house mice.

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Département de biologie, Université Laval, Québec, P.Q., Canada G1K 7P4.


Prolonged selective breeding of mice (Mus musculus) for high levels of voluntary wheel running has favoured an unusual phenotype ("mini muscles"), apparently caused by a single Mendelian recessive allele, in which most hind-limb muscles are markedly reduced in mass, but have increased mass-specific activities of mitochondrial enzymes. We examined whether these changes reflect changes in fibre size, number or ultrastructure in normal and "mini-muscle" mice within the two (of four) selectively bred lines (lab designations L3 and L6) that exhibit the phenotype at generations 26 and 27. In both lines, the gastrocnemius and plantaris muscles are smaller in mass (by >50% and 20%, respectively) in affected individuals. The mass-specific activities of mitochondrial enzymes in the gastrocnemius and plantaris muscles were increased in the mini phenotype in both lines, with stronger effects in the gastrocnemius muscle. In the gastrocnemius, the % myosin heavy chain (MHC) IIb was reduced by 50% in L3 and by 30% in L6, whereas the % MHC IIa and I were higher, particularly in L3. Fibre number in the plantaris muscle did not significantly differ between mini and normal muscles, although muscle mass was a significant positive correlate of fibre number. Small fibres were more abundant in mini than normal muscles in L3. Mitochondrial volume density was significantly higher in mini than normal muscle fibres in L3, but not in L6. Microscopy revealed a surprising attribute of the mini muscles: an abundance of small, minimally differentiated, myofibril-containing cells positioned in a disorderly fashion, particularly in the surface layer. We hypothesise that these unusual cells may be satellite cells or type IIb fibres that did not complete their differentiation. Together, these observations suggest that mice with the mini phenotype have reduced numbers of type IIb fibres in many of their hind-limb muscles, leading to a decrease in mass and an increase in mass-specific aerobic capacity in muscles that typically have a high proportion of type IIb fibres. Moreover, the several statistically significant interactions between muscle phenotype and line indicate that the effect of the underlying allele is altered by genetic background.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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