Down syndrome is frequently associated with complex difficulties in oromotor development, feeding, and swallowing. However, the muscle phenotypes underlying these deficits are unclear. We tested the hypotheses that the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS has significantly altered myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoform profiles of the muscles involved in feeding and swallowing, as well as reductions in the speed of these movements during behavioral assays. SDS-PAGE, immunofluorescence, and qRT-PCR were used to assess MyHC isoform expression in pertinent muscles, and functional feeding and swallowing performance were quantified through videofluoroscopy and mastication assays. We found that both the anterior digastric (ADG) and posterior digastric (PDG) muscles in 11-day old and 5-6 week old Ts65Dn groups showed significantly lower MyHC 2b protein levels than in age-matched euploid control groups. In videofluoroscopic and videotape assays used to quantify swallowing and mastication performance, 5-6 week old Ts65Dn and euploid controls showed similar swallow rates, inter-swallow intervals, and mastication rates. In analysis of adults, 10-11 week old Ts65Dn mice revealed significantly less MyHC 2b mRNA expression in the posterior digastric, but not the anterior digastric muscle as compared with euploid controls. Analysis of MyHC 2b protein levels across an adult age range (10-53 weeks of age) revealed lower levels of MyHC 2b protein in the PDG of Ts65Dn than in euploids, but similar levels of MyHC 2b in the ADG. Cumulatively, these results indicate biochemical differences in some, but not all, muscles involved in swallowing and jaw movement in Ts65Dn mice that manifest early in post-natal development, and persist into adulthood. These findings suggest potential utility of this model for future investigations of the mechanisms of oromotor difficulties associated with Down syndrome.
Glass, T. J., & Connor, N. P. (2016). Digastric muscle phenotypes of the Ts65Dn mouse model of down syndrome. PLoS ONE, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158008