Nemaline myopathy is among the most common non-dystrophic congenital myopathies, and is characterized by the presence of nemaline rods in skeletal muscles fibers, general muscle weakness, and hypotonia. Although respiratory failure is the main cause of death in nemaline myopathy, only little is known regarding the contractile strength of the diaphragm, the main muscle of inspiration. To investigate diaphragm contractility, in the present study we took advantage of a mouse model for nebulin-based nemaline myopathy that we recently developed. In this mouse model, exon 55 of Neb is deleted (Neb(ΔExon55)), a mutation frequently found in patients. Diaphragm contractility was determined in permeabilized muscle fibers and was compared to the contractility of permeabilized fibers from three peripheral skeletal muscles: soleus, extensor digitorum longus, and gastrocnemius. The force generating capacity of diaphragm muscle fibers of Neb(ΔExon55) mice was reduced to 25% of wildtype levels, indicating severe contractile weakness. The contractile weakness of diaphragm fibers was more pronounced than that observed in soleus muscle, but not more pronounced than that observed in extensor digitorum longus and gastrocnemius muscles. The reduced muscle contractility was at least partly caused by changes in cross-bridge cycling kinetics which reduced the number of bound cross-bridges. The severe diaphragm weakness likely contributes to the development of respiratory failure in Neb(ΔExon55) mice and might explain their early, postnatal death.
- Journal Article