Dynamic formation of microenvironments at the myotendinous junction correlates with muscle fiber morphogenesis in zebrafish

Gene Expr Patterns. 2009 Jan;9(1):37-42. doi: 10.1016/j.gep.2008.08.003. Epub 2008 Aug 26.


Muscle development involves the specification and morphogenesis of muscle fibers that attach to tendons. After attachment, muscles and tendons then function as an integrated unit to transduce force to the skeletal system and stabilize joints. The attachment site is the myotendinous junction, or MTJ, and is the primary site of force transmission. We find that attachment of fast-twitch myofibers to the MTJ correlates with the formation of novel microenvironments within the MTJ. The expression or activation of two proteins involved in anchoring the intracellular cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix, Focal adhesion kinase (Fak) and beta-dystroglycan is up-regulated. Conversely, the extracellular matrix protein Fibronectin (Fn) is down-regulated. This degradation of Fn as fast-twitch fibers attach to the MTJ results in Fn protein defining a novel microenvironment within the MTJ adjacent to slow-twitch, but not fast-twitch, muscle. Interestingly, however, Fak, laminin, Fn and beta-dystroglycan concentrate at the MTJ in mutants that do not have slow-twitch fibers. Taken together, these data elucidate novel and dynamic microenvironments within the MTJ and indicate that MTJ morphogenesis is spatially and temporally complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dystroglycans / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism*
  • Environment
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis*
  • Muscle Fibers, Fast-Twitch / physiology*
  • Muscle Fibers, Slow-Twitch / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / embryology*
  • Tendons / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / embryology*


  • Fibronectins
  • Laminin
  • Dystroglycans
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases