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J Physiol. 2014 May 1;592(9):1949-56. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2014.270678. Epub 2014 Mar 3.

Novel approaches to determine contractile function of the isolated adult zebrafish ventricular cardiac myocyte.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, 2160 South First Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153, USA.


The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has been used extensively in cardiovascular biology, but mainly in the study of heart development. The relative ease of its genetic manipulation may indicate the suitability of this species as a cost-effective model system for the study of cardiac contractile biology. However, whether the zebrafish heart is an appropriate model system for investigations pertaining to mammalian cardiac contractile structure-function relationships remains to be resolved. Myocytes were isolated from adult zebrafish hearts by enzymatic digestion, attached to carbon rods, and twitch force and intracellular Ca(2+) were measured. We observed the modulation of twitch force, but not of intracellular Ca(2+), by both extracellular [Ca(2+)] and sarcomere length. In permeabilized cells/myofibrils, we found robust myofilament length-dependent activation. Moreover, modulation of myofilament activation-relaxation and force redevelopment kinetics by varied Ca(2+) activation levels resembled that found previously in mammalian myofilaments. We conclude that the zebrafish is a valid model system for the study of cardiac contractile structure-function relationships.

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