Mastoparan effects in skeletal muscle damage: An ultrastructural view until now concealed

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Animal venoms have been valuable sources for development of new drugs and important tools to understand cellular functioning in health and disease. The venom of Polybia paulista, a neotropical social wasp belonging to the subfamily Polistinae, has been sampled by headspace solid phase microextraction and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Recent study has shown that mastoparan, a major basic peptide isolated from the venom, reproduces the myotoxic effect of the whole venom. In this study, Polybia-MPII mastoparan was synthesized and studies using transmission electron microscopy were carried out in mice tibial anterior muscle to identify the subcellular targets of its myotoxic action. The effects were followed at 3 and 24 h, 3, 7, and 21 days after mastoparan (0.25 mu g/mu L) intramuscular injection. The peptide caused disruption of the sarcolemma and collapse of myofibril arrangement in myofibers. As a consequence, fibers presented heteromorphic amorphous masses of agglutinated myofilaments very often intermingled with denuded sarcoplasmic areas sometimes only surrounded by a persistent basal lamina. To a lesser extent, a number of fibers apparently did not present sarcolemma rupture but instead appeared with multiple small vacuoles. The results showed that sarcolemma, sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), and mitochondria were the main targets for mastoparan. In addition, a number of fibers showed apoptotic-like nuclei suggesting that the peptide causes death both by necrosis and apoptosis. This study presents a hitherto unexplored view of the effects of mastoparan in skeletal muscle and contributes to discuss how the known pharmacology of the peptide is reflected in the sarcolemma, SR, mitochondria, and nucleus of muscle fibers, apparently its subcellular targets.




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Microscopy Research and Technique. Hoboken: Wiley-liss, v. 71, n. 3, p. 220-229, 2008.

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