Alternative splicing, muscle calcium sensitivity, and the modulation of dragonfly flight performance

J. H. Marden, G. H. Fitzhugh, M. R. Wolf, K. D. Arnold, B. Rowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Calcium sensitivity of myosin cross-bridge activation in striated muscles commonly varies during ontogeny and in response to alterations in muscle usage, but the consequences for whole-organism physiology are not well known. Here we show that the relative abundances of alternatively spliced transcripts of the calcium regulatory protein troponin T (TnT) vary widely in flight muscle of Libellula pulchella dragonflies, and that the mixture of TnT splice variants explains significant portions of the variation in muscle calcium sensitivity, wing-beat frequency, and an index of aerodynamic power output during free flight. Two size-distinguishable morphs differ in their maturational pattern of TnT splicing, yet they show the same relationship between TnT transcript mixture and calcium sensitivity and between calcium sensitivity and aerodynamic power output. This consistency of effect in different developmental and physiological contexts strengthens the hypothesis that TnT isoform variation modulates muscle calcium sensitivity and whole- organism Iocomotor performance. Modulating muscle power output appears to provide the ecologically important ability to operate at different points along a tradeoff between performance and energetic cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15304-15309
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 21 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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