• electrophoresis;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • monoclonal antibodies;
  • quantitative histochemistry;
  • muscular metabolism;
  • meat quality


The primary focus of this study was the accurate classification of limb skeletal muscle fiber types in adult goats (Capra hircus) according to the myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform they express. Combined methodologies of gel electrophoresis, immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, myofibrillar ATPase (mATPase), and quantitative metabolic enzyme histochemistry of M. semitendinosus samples were developed. Three MHCs were identified and tentatively designated as types I, IIA, and IIX. Five fiber types were defined immunohistochemically according to their MHC content: I, I+IIA, IIA, IIAX, and IIX. The hybrid fast-twitch fibers (IIAX) totaled 21% of the fiber population analyzed. The three major pure fibers (I, IIA, and IIX) could be objectively separated upon the basis of their mATPase activities after acid and alkaline preincubations. The prominent number of hybrid fibers, however, could not be delineated with these mATPase methods. Metabolic and size properties of muscle fibers varied according to their MHC content, but overlapped the full range of muscle fiber phenotypes. These integrated data demonstrate that type II skeletal muscle fibers of small ruminants have been misclassified in previous studies. The immunohistochemical approach developed in the present study offers new prospects for muscle fiber typing in caprine experimental studies and meat production technologies. Anat Rec 264:284–293, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.