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Muscle-specific integrins in masseter muscle fibers of chimpanzees: an immunohistochemical study.

Author(s): Angelo Favaloro | Giampiero Speranza | Silvia Rezza | Valentina Gatta | Gianluigi Vaccarino | Liborio Stuppia | Felice Festa | Giuseppe Anastasi

Journal: Folia Histochemica et Cytobiologica
ISSN 0239-8508

Volume: 47;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 551;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Most notably, recent comparative genomic analyses strongly indicate that the marked differences between modern human and chimpanzees are likely due more to changes in gene regulation than to modifications of the genes. The most peculiar aspect of hominoid karyotypes is that human have 46 chromosomes whereas gorillas and chimpanzees have 48. Interestingly, human and chimpanzees do share identical inversions on chromosome 7 and 9 that are not evident in the gorilla karyotype. Thus, the general phylogeny suggests that humans and chimpanzees are sister taxa; based on this, it seems that human-chimpanzee sequence similarity is an astonishing 99%. At this purpose, of particular interest is the inactivation of the myosin heavy chain 16 (MYH16) gene, most prominently expressed in the masticatory muscle of mammals. It has been showed that the loss of this gene in humans may have resulted in smaller masticatory muscle and consequential changes to cranio-facial morphology and expansion of the human brain case. Powerful masticatory muscles are found in most primates; contrarily, in both modern and fossil member Homo, these muscles are considerably smaller. The evolving hominid masticatory apparatus shifted towards a pattern of gracilization nearly simultaneously with accelerated encephalization in early Homo. To better comprehend the real role of the MYH16 gene, we studied the primary proteins present in the muscle fibers of humans and non-humans, in order to understand if they really can be influenced by MYH16 gene. At this aim we examined the muscle-specific integrins, alpha 7B and beta 1D-integrins, and their relative fetal isoforms, alpha 7A and beta 1A-integrins, analyzing, by immunohistochemistry, muscle biopsies of two components of a chimpanzee's group in captivity, an alpha male and a non-alpha male subjects; all these integrins participate in vital biological processes such as maintenance of tissue integrity, embryonic development, cell differentiation, and cell-extracellular matrix interactions. Our results demonstrated a different quantitative composition of integrins, in alpha male in respect to human and non-alpha male, hypothesizing that the MYH16 gene could modify the expression of integrins, influencing, in turn, the phenotype of muscle. In this way, alpha 7A-and beta 1A-integrin could determine the presence of type II fibers and then they could play a key role in the determination of contraction force. Then, MYH16 gene could be a common interactor of signalling between sarcoglycans and integrins in chimpanzee muscles.
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