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Crustacean muscle plasticity: molecular mechanisms determining mass and contractile properties.

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Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523, USA.


Two crustacean models for understanding molecular mechanisms of muscle plasticity are reviewed. Metabolic changes underlying muscle protein synthesis and degradation have been examined in the Bermuda land crab, Gecarcinus lateralis. During proecdysis, the claw closer muscle undergoes a programmed atrophy, which results from a highly controlled breakdown of myofibrillar proteins by Ca(2+)-dependent and, possibly, ATP/ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic enzymes. The advantage of this model is that there is neither fiber degeneration nor contractile-type switching, which often occurs in mammalian skeletal muscles. The second model uses American lobster, Homarus americanus, to understand the genetic regulation of fiber-type switching. Fibers in the claw closer muscles undergo a developmentally-regulated transformation as the isomorphic claws of larvae and juveniles differentiate into the heteromorphic cutter and crusher claws of adults. This switching occurs at the boundary between fast- and slow-fiber regions, and thus the transformation of a specific fiber is determined by its position within the muscle. The ability to predict fiber switching can be exploited to isolate and identify putative master regulatory factors that initiate and coordinate the expression of contractile proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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