In a fast-twitch muscle, three types of fibers (red, intermediate, and white) can be distinguished on the basis of mitochondrial content. Red fibers, identified by abundant mitochondria, can be further differentiated on the basis of a positive or negative response to antibodies specific for white ("fast") myosin. Because there is also a difference in Z-line width among fibers of the same muscle, the possibility existed that the two red fibers, which differ in type of myosin, might also differ in dimensions of the Z line. We therefore examined, with the electron microscope, fibers which had been exposed to antibody against white myosin. In those fibers which react with the antibody, an electron-opaque band is evident in the H-band region, thereby distinguishing reactive from unreactive fibers. The red fiber can now be subdivided on the basis of a positive or negative response to anti-white myosin visualized directly with the electron microscope. Both categories of red fibers ("fast" and "slow") have wide Z lines, and thus are distinguished from white and intermediate fibers, which react with the antibody but which have narrow Z lines. On the basis of combined immunocytochemical and ultrastructural characteristics, four types of fibers can be recognized in a single muscle. Moreover, it is demonstrated here that a wide Z line does not necessarily imply a slow speed of contraction.

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