The superfast extraocular myosin (MYH13) is localized to the innervation zone in both the global and orbital layers of rabbit extraocular muscle.
Extraocular muscles (EOMs) are the most molecularly heterogeneous and physiologically diverse mammalian striated muscles. They express the entire array of striated muscle myosins, including a specialized myosin heavy chain MYH13, which is restricted to extraocular and laryngeal muscles. EOMs also exhibit a breadth of contractile activity, from superfast saccades to slow tracking and convergence movements. These movements are accomplished by the action of six ultrastructurally defined fiber types that differ from the type IIa, IIb, IIx and I fibers found in other skeletal muscles. Attempts to associate different eye movements with either the expression of different myosins or the activity of particular EOM fiber types are complicated by the molecular heterogeneity of several of the fiber types, and by electromyography studies showing that the majority of extraocular motor units participate in both fast and slow eye movements. To better understand the role of MYH13 in ocular motility, we generated MYH13-sequence-specific antibodies and used SDS-PAGE to quantify the regional distribution of myosin in EOM and to characterize its heterogeneity in single fibers. These studies demonstrate that MYH13 is preferentially expressed in the majority of orbital and global fibers in the central innervation zone of rabbit EOM. Many individual fibers express MYH13 with the fast IIb myosin and varying amounts of IIx myosin. The differential localization of MYH13, coupled with specialization of the sarcoplasmic reticulum and thin filament systems, probably explains how activation of the endplate band region enables the majority of EOM fibers to contribute to superfast contractions.
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