Single rabbit stomach smooth muscle cell myosin heavy chain SMB expression and shortening velocity

Thomas J. Eddinger, Daniel P. Meer


Isolated single smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from different regions of the rabbit stomach were used to determine a possible correlation between unloaded shortening velocity and smooth muscle (SM) myosin heavy chain (MHC) S1 head isoform composition (SMA, no head insert; SMB, with head insert). α-Toxin-permeabilized isolated single cells were maximally activated to measure unloaded shortening velocity and subsequently used in an RT-PCR reaction to determine the SMA/SMB content of the same cell. SM MHC SMA and SMB isoforms are uniquely distributed in the stomach with cells from the fundic region expressing little SMB (38.1 ± 7.3% SMB; n = 16); cells from the antrum express primarily SMB (94.9 ± 1.0% SMB; n = 16). Mean fundic cell unloaded shortening velocity was 0.014 ± 0.002 cell lengths/s compared with 0.036 ± 0.002 for the antrum cells. Unloaded shortening velocity in these cells was significantly correlated with their percent SMB expression (r 2 = 0.58). Resting cell length does not correlate with the percent SMB expression (n = 32 cells). Previously published assays of purified or expressed SMA and SMB heavy meromyosin show a twofold difference in actin filament sliding speed in in vitro motility assays. Extrapolation of our data to 0–100% SMB would give a 10-fold range of shortening velocity, which is closer to the ∼20-fold range reported from various SM tissues. This suggests that mechanisms in addition to the MHC S1 head isoforms regulate shortening velocity.

  • muscle mechanics
  • reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction


  • This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants HL-62237-01 and AR-45294-02.

  • Address for reprint requests and other correspondence: T. J. Eddinger, Dept. of Biology, Marquette Univ., P.O. Box 1881, WLS 109, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881 (E-mail:thomas.eddinger{at}

  • The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. The article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

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