During several months of denervation, rat mixed muscles lose slow myosin, though with variability among animals. Immunocytochemical studies showed that all the denervated fibers of the hemidiaphragm reacted with anti-fast myosin, while many reacted with anti-slow myosin as well. This has left open the question as to whether multiple forms of myosin co-exist within individual fibers or a unique, possibly embryonic, myosin is present, which shares epitopes with fast and slow myosins. Furthermore, one can ask if the reappearance of embryonic myosin in chronically denervated muscle is related both to its re-expression in the pre-existing fibers and to cell regeneration. To answer these questions we studied the myosin heavy chains from individual fibers of the denervated hemidiaphragm by SDS PAGE and morphologically searched for regenerative events in the long term denervated muscle. 3 mo after denervation the severely atrophic fibers of the hemidiaphragm showed either fast or a mixture of fast and slow myosin heavy chains. Structural analysis of proteins sequentially extracted from muscle cryostat sections showed that slow myosin was still present 16 mo after denervation, in spite of the loss of the selective distribution of fast and slow features. Therefore muscle fibers can express adult fast myosin not only when denervated during their differentiation but also after the slow program has been expressed for a long time. Light and electron microscopy showed that the long-term denervated muscle maintained a steady-state atrophy for the rat's life span. Some of the morphological features indicate that aneural regeneration events continuously occur and significantly contribute to the increasing uniformity of the myosin gene expression in long-term denervated diaphragm.

This content is only available as a PDF.