Background: Sonic muscle fibers intrinsic to the swim bladder of the oyster toadfish Opsanus tau proliferate throughout adult life and have an unusual radial morphology: alternating ribbons of sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and myofibrils surround a central core of sarcoplasm. Large fibers in adults form multiple cores, fragment, and appear to divide into smaller, more energy efficient units.
Methods: We examined embryonic to adult development of sonic muscle using electron and light microscopy and focused on the incidence of satellite cells (SC).
Results: Muscle fibers form late in the larval period from myoblasts, which do not appear to fuse into myotubes, but enlarge and differentiate myofibrils in a single patch. The SR differentiates from the outside inward, separating the myofibrils into bundles of varying thickness, which often exceed the thickness seen in adults. SCs in juveniles and adults have a sparse cytoplasm and a heterochromatic nucleus. The % SC nuclei (SC nuclei/total nuclei) decreases from a high of 88% in larvae to a low of 1% in adults although the adult average is 10%. No embryonic type fibers in the process of differentiating myofibrils were seen in adults. Small immature fibers, which had not yet formed the central core, have a complete radially organized contractile cylinder.
Conclusions: Immature muscle fibers formed embryonically in the larval period have a different morphology from immature fibers in adults, suggesting that splitting rather than SCs is a major source of new fibers in adults.