Design and control of the head retractor muscle in a turtle, Pseudemys (Trachemys) scripta: I. Architecture and histochemistry of single muscle fibers

The Journal of Comparative Neurology
R J CallisterE H Peterson


We are using the head retractor muscle (RCCQ) of a turtle, Pseudemys scripta, to analyze the neuromuscular mechanisms by which organisms vary the force and timing of muscle contraction. Previously we demonstrated that RCCQ comprises three histochemically defined fiber types: fast glycolytic (Fg), fast oxidative glycolytic (FOG), and slow oxidative (SO). In the present paper we report the 1) architectural features of single muscle fibers in RCCQ, including their lengths, diameters, and taper characteristics, 2) histochemical profiles of single muscle fibers, and 3) quantitative relations between our architectural and histochemical variables. Single fibers in RCCQ exhibit an order of magnitude variation in length (4-60 mm). Approximately 40% span the full muscle. The remaining fibers generally attach to bone or tendon at one end, and the other end tapers intramuscularly; rarely a fiber may taper at both ends. The maximum (untapering) diameters of single fibers are bimodally distributed, forming two diameter classes. Fibers also vary in the percentage of their total length that tapers and in the shape of the tapering region. Large diameter muscle fibers generally are longer and have shorter, more blunted tapers than small diameter...Continue Reading


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