Patterns of myosin isoforms in mammalian skeletal muscle fibres

Microsc Res Tech. 1995 Apr 1;30(5):381-9. doi: 10.1002/jemt.1070300505.


The present article attempts to combine existing information on the distribution of fast and slow myosin isoforms in histochemically distinct muscle fibres. Four myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoforms, MHCI, MHCIIa, MHCIIb, and MHCIId(x), have been identified in small mammals and have been assigned to the histochemically defined fibre types I, IIA, IIB, and IID(X), respectively. These fibres express only one MHC isoform and are called pure fibre types. Hybrid fibres expressing two MHC isoforms are regarded as transitory between respective pure fibre types. The existence of pure and hybrid fibres even in normal muscles under steady state conditions creates a spectrum of fibre types. The multiplicity of fibre types is even greater when myosin light chains are taken into account. A large number of isomyosins results from the combinatorial patterns of various myosin light and heavy chains isoforms, further increasing the diversity of muscle fibres. As shown by comparative studies, the distribution of different fibre types varies in a muscle-specific, as well as a species-specific manner.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myosins / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity


  • Isoenzymes
  • Myosins