Myoglobin is an abundant hemoprotein that is expressed in cardiomyocytes and oxidative skeletal myofibers of vertebrates. Elegant studies using physiological, biochemical and spectroscopic analyses support a role for myoglobin in facilitated oxygen transport and as a reservoir for oxygen in muscle of diving and hypoxia-adapted animals. In contrast, the functional role of myoglobin in terrestrial animals that function at ambient oxygen levels is a subject of debate. This debate was further fueled by the observation that genetically engineered mice that lack myoglobin are viable and capable of withstanding the hemodynamic stress associated with reproduction. Analysis of the myoglobin mutant striated muscle reveals a spectrum of adaptive mechanisms that partially compensate for the absence of myoglobin and further supports an important function for this hemoprotein in the maintenance of contractile function during exercise under ambient and hypoxic conditions. Future studies utilizing transgenic and gene deletional strategies will further enhance our understanding of myoglobin function under normoxic and hypoxic conditions and will impact our understanding of exercise physiology.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (HL-54794 and HL-06296) and the D.W. Reynolds Foundation.
- Gene expression
- Gene knockout
- Striated muscle