Generating fast-twitch myotubes in vitro with an optogenetic-based, quantitative contractility assay

Katharina Hennig, David Hardman, David Mb Barata, Inês Ibb Martins, Miguel O. Bernabeu, Edgar R. Gomes, William Roman

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The composition of fiber types within skeletal muscle impacts the tissue's physiological characteristics and susceptibility to disease and ageing. In vitro systems should therefore account for fiber-type composition when modelling muscle conditions. To induce fiber specification in vitro, we designed a quantitative contractility assay based on optogenetics and particle image velocimetry. We submitted cultured myotubes to long-term intermittent light-stimulation patterns and characterized their structural and functional adaptations. After several days of in vitro exercise, myotubes contract faster and are more resistant to fatigue. The enhanced contractile functionality was accompanied by advanced maturation such as increased width and up-regulation of neuron receptor genes. We observed an up-regulation in the expression of fast myosin heavy-chain isoforms, which induced a shift towards a fast-twitch phenotype. This long-term in vitro exercise strategy can be used to study fiber specification and refine muscle disease modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202302227
Number of pages12
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

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