Indexed on: 01 Dec '00Published on: 01 Dec '00Published in: Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
We have investigated the physiological role of desmin in skeletal muscle by measuring isometric tension generated in skinned fibres and intact skeletal muscles from desmin knock-out (DES-KO) mice. About 80% of skinned single extensor digitorum longus (EDL) fibres from adult DES-KO mice generated tensions close to that of wild-type (WT) controls. Weights and maximum tensions of intact EDL but not of soleus (SOL) muscles were lowered in DES-KO mice. Repeated contractions with stretch did not affect subsequent isometric tension in EDL muscles of DES-KO mice. Tension during high frequency fatigue (HFF) declined faster and this deficiency was compensated in DES-KO EDL muscles by 5 mM caffeine which had no influence on HFF in WT EDL. Furthermore, caffeine evoked twitch potentiation was higher in DES-KO than in WT muscles. We conclude that desmin is not essential for acute tensile strength but rather for optimal activation of intact myofibres during E-C coupling.