Metabolic fiber types of snake transversus abdominis muscle

Am J Physiol. 1989 Jun;256(6 Pt 1):C1176-83. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1989.256.6.C1176.


Fibers of the garter snake transversus abdominis muscle fall into three classes according to contraction speed: faster and slower twitch and tonic. To determine the relationship between these physiologically determined classes and established mammalian fiber types, individual fibers were assayed for key enzymes representing the major energy-generating pathways in vertebrate muscle. Five such enzymes were examined: lactate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, adenylokinase, fumarate hydratase, and beta-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase. The muscle contained three principal metabolic fiber types. Fast-contracting twitch fibers had low-oxidative but high-glycolytic capacity and therefore resembled mammalian-type fast-twitch glycolytic (FG) fibers. Slower twitch fibers were high oxidative-high glycolytic, similar to mammalian-type fast-twitch, oxidative, glycolytic (FOG) fibers. Tonic fibers were high oxidative-low glycolytic; this metabolic profile is characteristic of type slow-twitch oxidative (SO) fibers in mammals. Activity of the enzyme adenylokinase, which in mammals correlates with contraction speed and myosin adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) activity, separated these reptilian fibers into three groups that are similar but not identical to those delineated by oxidative and glycolytic enzymes. Adenylokinase and beta-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase showed the widest range of activities in snake muscle and, therefore, the greatest ability to discriminate fiber types.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenylate Kinase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Malate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Muscles / ultrastructure
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Snakes / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity


  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Malate Dehydrogenase
  • Adenylate Kinase