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Int Rev Cytol. 1997;170:143-223.

Mammalian skeletal muscle fiber type transitions.

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Faculty of Biology, University of Konstanz, Germany.


Mammalian skeletal muscle is an extremely heterogeneous tissue, composed of a large variety of fiber types. These fibers, however, are not fixed units but represent highly versatile entities capable of responding to altered functional demands and a variety of signals by changing their phenotypic profiles. This adaptive responsiveness is the basis of fiber type transitions. The fiber population of a given muscle is in a dynamic state, constantly adjusting to the current conditions. The full range of adaptive ability spans fast to slow characteristics. However, it is now clear that fiber type transitions do not proceed in immediate jumps from one extreme to the other, but occur in a graded and orderly sequential manner. At the molecular level, the best examples of these stepwise transitions are myofibrillar protein isoform exchanges. For the myosin heavy chain, this entails a sequence going from the fastest (MHCIIb) to the slowest (MHCI) isoform, and vice-versa. Depending on the basal protein isoform profile and hence the position within the fast-slow spectrum, the adaptive ranges of different fibers vary. A simple transition scheme has emerged from the multitude of data collected on fiber type conversions under a variety of conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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