Dystrophin, utrophin and the dystrophin-associated glycoproteins, β-dystroglycan and adhalin, were analyzed, together with the membrane cytoskeletal proteins β-spectrin, vinculin and talin, and adult and fetal myosin heavy chains, in 25 normal human fetuses from 8 to 24 weeks of gestation. Dystrophin was present in heart and skeletal muscle from 8 weeks although in the latter was mainly in the cytoplasm at this stage. Utrophin expression increased until around gestational weeks 19/21, but by 24 weeks immunostaining and immunoblot band intensities had reduced. Beta-dystroglycan was scarce in skeletal muscle at 8 weeks, increased with maturation and was more abundant in heart of the same age. Adhalin appeared later than,β-dystroglycan on skeletal muscle fiber surfaces, positivity became more intense as the fibers matured. In heart adhalin was detectable only in groups of cells at 12-16 weeks. From 8 weeks all fetal myotubes expressed β-spectrin on their surfaces, while vinculin and talin positivity was mainly at the periphery of the fascicles, increasing with age. Adult slow myosin was seen in most myotubes at 10 weeks. Secondary myotubes then formed which increasingly expressed adult fast myosin, while still retaining fetal myosin. By 24 weeks most fibers expressing adult slow myosin had lost fetal myosin and were more mature in the expression of most membrane proteins. Muscle membrane organization during human fetal development is a complex process and takes place earlier in heart than skeletal muscle.
- Dystrophin-associated glycoprotein
- Human fetal muscle
- Membrane cytoskeletal protein
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology
- Developmental Neuroscience