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J Exp Zool A Ecol Genet Physiol. 2010 Jan 1;313(1):45-57. doi: 10.1002/jez.574.

Myosin heavy chain composition of tiger (Panthera tigris) and cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) hindlimb muscles.

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Department of Human Science, Georgetown University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.


Felids have a wide range of locomotor activity patterns and maximal running speeds, including the very fast cheetah (Acinonyx jubatas), the roaming tiger (Panthera tigris), and the relatively sedentary domestic cat (Felis catus). As previous studies have suggested a relationship between the amount and type of activity and the myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform composition of a muscle, we assessed the MHC isoform composition of selected hindlimb muscles from these three felid species with differing activity regimens. Using gel electrophoresis, western blotting, histochemistry, and immunohistochemistry with MHC isoform-specific antibodies, we compared the MHC composition in the tibialis anterior, medial gastrocnemius (MG), plantaris (Plt), and soleus muscles of the tiger, cheetah, and domestic cat. The soleus muscle was absent in the cheetah. At least one slow (type I) and three fast (types IIa, IIx, and IIb) MHC isoforms were present in the muscles of each felid. The tiger had a high combined percentage of the characteristically slower isoforms (MHCs I and IIa) in the MG (62%) and the Plt (86%), whereas these percentages were relatively low in the MG (44%) and Plt (55%) of the cheetah. In general, the MHC isoform characteristics of the hindlimb muscles matched the daily activity patterns of these felids: the tiger has daily demands for covering long distances, whereas the cheetah has requirements for speed and power.

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