Background: Myogenin expression is associated with a slow myofiber phenotype, and MyoD expression is associated with a fast myofiber phenotype. Hindlimb suspension (HS) will induce muscular atrophy, and a transition from a slow to fast myofiber phenotype in the rat soleus.
Hypothesis: Hindlimb suspension will induce myofiber atrophy, and a slow to fast myofiber type transition with corresponding changes in myogenin and MyoD expression.
Methods: Myofiber phenotype was evaluated by electrophoretically separating the myosin heavy chain isoforms. Myogenin expression was evaluated by Northern analysis, while MyoD expression was evaluated by Northern analysis and semiquantitative RT-PCR.
Result: After 28 d of hindlimb suspension, there was significantly (p < 0.05) less myosin heavy chain Type IIA, and more (p < 0.05) myosin heavy chain Type IIX in the soleus muscles of hindlimb suspended rats compared with soleus muscles from weight-bearing (WB) rats. Although there was a shift to a faster myosin heavy chain phenotype in soleus muscles from hindlimb suspended rats, there was no change in myogenin expression, and MyoD expression was undetectable by Northern analysis. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR revealed an up-regulation of MyoD expression following 14 d of hindlimb suspension.
Conclusions: Myogenin expression levels do not change during the slow to fast myofiber phenotypic transition that occurs during hindlimb suspension; MyoD expression appears to increase at the same time as the phenotypic transition. Thus, MyoD expression or the Myogenin: MyoD mRNA ratio may be important in the phenotypic transition. Neither myogenin nor MyoD appear to play a critical role in the muscular atrophy that occurs during weightlessness.