ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-130312-8
Knockdown of desmin in zebrafish larvae affects interfilament spacing and mechanical properties of skeletal muscle
Li, M., Andersson-Lendahl, M., Sejersen, T., and Arner, A.
Date: 2013
Source: The Journal of general physiology   141(3): 335-345 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Lendahl, Monika Andersson
Keywords: none
MeSH Terms:
  • Animals
  • Desmin/deficiency*
  • Desmin/genetics
  • Desmin/metabolism
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Intermediate Filaments/genetics
  • Intermediate Filaments/metabolism
  • Intermediate Filaments/physiology*
  • Larva
  • Muscle Contraction/genetics
  • Muscle Contraction/physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal/metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal/physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Sarcomeres/genetics
  • Sarcomeres/metabolism
  • Sarcomeres/physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Swimming/physiology
  • X-Ray Diffraction/methods
  • Zebrafish/genetics
  • Zebrafish/metabolism
  • Zebrafish/physiology*
PubMed: 23440276 Full text @ J. Gen. Physiol.

Skeletal muscle was examined in zebrafish larvae in order to address questions related to the function of the intermediate filament protein desmin and its role in the pathogenesis of human desminopathy. A novel approach including mechanical and structural studies of 4–6-d-old larvae was applied. Morpholino antisense oligonucleotides were used to knock down desmin. Expression was assessed using messenger RNA and protein analyses. Histology and synchrotron light–based small angle x-ray diffraction were applied. Functional properties were analyzed with in vivo studies of swimming behavior and with in vitro mechanical examinations of muscle. The two desmin genes normally expressed in zebrafish could be knocked down by <50%. This resulted in a phenotype with disorganized muscles with altered attachments to the myosepta. The knockdown larvae were smaller and had diminished swimming activity. Active tension was lowered and muscles were less vulnerable to acute stretch-induced injury. X-ray diffraction revealed wider interfilament spacing. In conclusion, desmin intermediate filaments are required for normal active force generation and affect vulnerability during eccentric work. This is related to the role of desmin in anchoring sarcomeres for optimal force transmission. The results also show that a partial lack of desmin, without protein aggregates, is sufficient to cause muscle pathology resembling that in human desminopathy.