Slow myosin heavy chain 1 is required for slow myofibril and muscle fibre growth but not for myofibril initiation

Hoi Ting A. Hau, Jeffrey J. Kelu, Julien Ochala, Simon M. Hughes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Slow myosin heavy chain 1 (Smyhc1) is the major sarcomeric myosin driving early contraction by slow skeletal muscle fibres in zebrafish. New mutant alleles lacking a functional smyhc1 gene move poorly, but recover motility as the later-formed fast muscle fibres of the segmental myotomes mature, and are adult viable. By motility analysis and inhibiting fast muscle contraction pharmacologically, we show that a slow muscle motility defect persists in mutants until about 1 month of age. Breeding onto a genetic background marking slow muscle fibres with EGFP revealed that mutant slow fibres undergo terminal differentiation, migration and fibre formation indistinguishable from wild type but fail to generate large myofibrils and maintain cellular orientation and attachments. In mutants, initial myofibrillar structures with 1.67 ​μm periodic actin bands fail to mature into the 1.96 ​μm sarcomeres observed in wild type, despite the presence of alternative myosin heavy chain molecules. The poorly-contractile mutant slow muscle cells generate numerous cytoplasmic organelles, but fail to grow and bundle myofibrils or to increase in cytoplasmic volume despite passive movements imposed by fast muscle. The data show that both slow myofibril maturation and cellular volume increase depend on the function of a specific myosin isoform and suggest that appropriate force production regulates muscle fibre growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Early online date10 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


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