Using an immunocytochemical approach, we have demonstrated a preferential distribution of myosin isoenzymes with respect to the pattern of fiber types in skeletal muscles of the rat. In an earlier study, we had shown that fluorescein-labeled antibody against "white" myosin from the chicken pectoralis stained all the white, intermediate and about half the red fibers of the rat diaphragm, a fast-twitch muscle (Gauthier and Lowey, 1977). We have now extended this study to include antibodies prepared against the "head" (S1) and "rod" portions of myosin, as well as the alkali- and 5,5'dithiobis (2-nitrobenzoic acid) (DTNB)-light chains. Antibodies capable of distinguishing between alkali 1 and alkali 2 type myosin were also used to localize these isoenzymes in the same fast muscle. We observed, by both direct and indirect immunofluorescence, that the same fibers which had reacted previously with antibodies against white myosin reacted with antibodies to the proteolytic subfragments and to the low molecular-weight subunits of myosin. These results confirm our earlier conclusion that the myosins of the reactive fibers in rat skeletal muscle are sufficiently similar to share antigenic determinants. The homology, furthermore, is not confined to a limited region of the myosin molecule, but includes the head and rod portions and all classes of light chains. Despite the similarities, some differences exist in the protein compositions of these fibers: antibodies to S1 did not stain the reactive (fast) red fiber as strongly as they did the white and intermediate fibers. Non-uniform staining was also observed with antibodies specific for A2 myosin; the fast red fiber again showed weaker fluorescence than did the other reactive fibers. These results could indicate a variable distribution of myosin isoenzymes according to their alkali-light chain composition among fiber types. Alternatively, there may exist yet another myosin isoenzyme which is localized in the fast red fiber. Those red fibers which did not react with any of the antibodies to pectoralis myosin, did react strongly with an antibody against myosin isolated from the anterior latissimus dorsi (ALD), a slow red muscle of the chicken. The myosin in these fibers (slow red fibers) is, therefore, distinct from the other myosin isoenzymes. In the rat soleus, a slow-twitch muscle, the majority of the fibers reacted only with antibody against ALD myosin. A minority, however, reacted with antiboddies to pectoralis as well as ALD myosin, which indicates that both fast and slow myosin can coexist within the same fiber of a normal adult muscle. These immunocytochemical studies have emphasized that a wide range of isoenzymes may contribute to the characteristic physiological properties of individual fiber types in a mixed muscle.

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