The purpose of this study was to characterize the alterations in muscle contractile (tension-pCa relationship) and biochemical (myosin heavy and light chains, troponin C content) properties in a hereditary motoneuron disease. The study was performed on wobbler mouse mutants which presented a neuronal degeneration. The time course of the disease was followed at 5 and 7 weeks in sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and soleus muscles. The wobbler disease was found to induce a shift from fast to slow myosin heavy-chain isoform expression in SCM and soleus muscles. The analysis of the myosin light-chain (MLC) composition revealed, for the SCM muscles, the appearance of the slow isoforms at 5 weeks and an increase in the regulatory MLC2 content at 7 weeks. A significant increase in the slow troponin C isoform content was found in both types of wobbler muscles at 7 weeks. The wobbler soleus and SCM muscles presented an age- and fiber-type-related atrophy, characterized by a decline in absolute maximal tension and fiber diameter. A decrease in calcium sensitivity was observed at 7 weeks for the soleus fibers and at both 5 and 7 weeks for the SCM. The results indicated fast-to-slow changes in contractile and biochemical properties of the wobbler soleus and SCM muscles, which occurred during the motoneuron degeneration process previously described in the wobbler pathology.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.