Protein composition of white skeletal muscle from mesopelagic fishes having different water and protein contents

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The consequences for white skeletal muscle of the whole body variation in water and protein content were examined in 11 mesopelagic fishes taken off the coast of Oregon, USA, in 1983. For such muscles, water content varied from 71 to 91% of muscle wet weight, and protein content ranged from 56 to 141 mg g-1 muscle wet weight, depending on the species. Dilution by increased water content did not account for the decrease in protein content. Total muscle protein was partitioned into soluble (myogen or sarcoplasmic) and insoluble (myofibrillar) components. Both the myogen and myofibrillar components are reduced in muscle with decreased protein content. The activities (units g-1 wet wt) of white muscle L-lactate dehydrogenase and L-malate dehydrogenase are higher in fishes undergoing diel vertical migration to surface waters than in fishes that either do not migrate or do not migrate to surface waters. The differences in enzyme activities are not due to a general dilution of muscle protein. The actin content of white skeletal muscle was maintained at a relatively constant level in all 11 species examined and was similar to actin levels observed previously in the white skeletal muscle of scombrids and demersal fishes. This conservation of actin content requires species with a reduced muscle protein content to maintain a significant fraction of their total protein as actin. The specific activities of the myofibrillar Mg2+-Ca2+-activated adenosine triphosphatases of the mesopelagic species are similar in all 11 species studied. Thus, the ratios of proteins in the isolated myofibrils are probably similar. These results suggest that, in species with decreased muscle protein, there is an increase in the non-myofibrillar form of actin. © 1984 Springer-Verlag.

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Marine Biology

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