Skeletal fiber types and spindle distribution in limb and jaw muscles of the adult and neonatal opossum, Monodelphis domestica

Anat Rec. 1998 Aug;251(4):548-62. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0185(199808)251:4<548::AID-AR10>3.0.CO;2-O.


The South American opossum, Monodelphis domestica, is very immature at birth, and we wished to assess its potential for studies of jaw muscle development. Given the lack of prior information about any Monodelphis fiber types or spindles, our study aimed to identify for the first time fiber types in both adult and neonatal muscles and the location of spindles in the jaw muscles. Fiber types were identified in frozen sections of adult and 6-day-old jaw and limb muscles by using myosin ATPase and metabolic enzyme histochemistry and by immunostaining for myosin isoforms. The distribution of fiber types and muscle spindles throughout the jaw-closer muscles was identified by immunostaining of sections of methacarnoy-fixed, wax-embedded heads. Most muscles contained one slow (type I) and two fast fiber types (equivalent to types IIA and IIX), which were similar to those in eutherian muscle, and an additional (non-IIB) fast type. In jaw-closer muscles, the main extrafusal fiber type was IIM (characteristic of these muscles in some eutherians), and almost all spindles were concentrated in four restricted areas: one in masseter and three in temporalis. Six-day neonatal muscles were very immature, but future spindle-rich areas were revealed by immunostaining and corresponded in position to the adult areas. Extrafusal and spindle fiber types in Monodelphis share many similarities with eutherian mammalian muscle. This finding, along with the immaturity of myosin isoform expression observed 6 days postnatally, indicates that Monodelphis could provide a valuable model for studying early developmental events in the jaw-closer muscles and their spindles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Masticatory Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Masticatory Muscles / growth & development
  • Masticatory Muscles / ultrastructure
  • Muscle Development
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / ultrastructure*
  • Muscle Spindles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle Spindles / growth & development
  • Muscle Spindles / ultrastructure
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Myosins / analysis
  • Opossums / anatomy & histology*


  • Myosins