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Quantification of Myosin Heavy Chain RNA in Human Laryngeal Muscles: Differential Expression in the Vertical and Horizontal Posterior Cricoarytenoid and Thyroarytenoid


  • This work was supported by an RO1 grant to Dr. Sciote, NIDCD 5058-3.


Background: Human laryngeal muscles are composed of fibers that express type I, IIA, and IIX myosin heavy chains (MyHC), but the presence and quantity of atypical myosins such as perinatal, extraocular, IIB, and α (cardiac) remain in question. These characteristics have been determined by biochemical or immunohistologic tissue sampling but with no complementary evidence of gene expression at the molecular level. The distribution of myosin, the main motor protein, in relation to structure-function relationships in this specialized muscle group will be important for understanding laryngeal function in both health and disease.

Objectives: We determined the quantity of MyHC genes expressed in human posterior cricoarytenoid (PCA) and thyroarytenoid (TA) muscle using real-time quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction in a large number of samples taken from laryngectomy subjects. The PCA muscle was divided into vertical (V) and horizontal (H) portions for analysis.

Results and Conclusions: No extraocular or IIB myosin gene message is present in PCA or TA, but IIB is expressed in human extraocular muscle. Low but detectable amounts of perinatal and α gene message are present in both of the intrinsic laryngeal muscles. In H- and V-PCA, MyHC gene amounts were β greater than IIA greater than IIX, but amounts of fast myosin RNA were greater in V-PCA. In TA, the order was β greater than IIX greater than IIA. The profiles of RNA determined here indicate that, in humans, neither PCA nor TA intrinsic laryngeal muscles express unique very fast-contracting MyHCs but instead may rely on differential synthesis and use of β, IIA, and IIX isoforms to perform their specialized contractile functions.