Isozymes of creatine kinase and glycogen phosphorylase are excellent markers of skeletal muscle maturation. In adult innervated muscle only the muscle-gene-specific isozymes are present, whereas aneurally cultured human muscle has predominantly the fetal pattern of isozymes. We have studied the isozyme pattern of human muscle cultured in monolayer and innervated by rat embryo spinal cord explants for 20-42 d. In this culture system, large groups of innervated muscle fibers close to the ventral part of the spinal cord explant continuously contracted. The contractions were reversibly blocked by 1 mM d-tubocurarine. In those innervated fibers, the total activity and the muscle-gene-specific isozymes of both enzymes increased significantly. The amount of muscle-gene-specific isozymes directly correlated with the duration of innervation. Control noninnervated muscle fibers from the same dishes as the innervated fibers remained biochemically immature. This study demonstrated that de novo innervation of human muscle cultured in monolayer exerts a time-related maturational influence that is not mediated by a diffusable neural factor.

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