Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027.
The relative contributions of innervation and androgen to three muscle fiber properties--twitch type, size, and number--were examined in the sexually dimorphic, androgen-sensitive laryngeal muscle of Xenopus laevis. In adults, the muscle contains all fast-twitch fibers in males and fast- and slow-twitch fibers in females; laryngeal muscle fibers are larger and more numerous in males than in females. Juvenile larynges are female-like in both sexes; male laryngeal muscle is subsequently masculinized by androgen secretion during postmetamorphic development. Because both laryngeal motor neurons and muscle fibers are androgen sensitive during masculinization, we examined the role of the nerve in androgen-regulated muscle fiber development. Laryngeal muscle of male and female juvenile frogs was unilaterally denervated, and effects on muscle fiber type, size, and number were examined 4 weeks later. Half of the frogs received a dihydrotestosterone pellet at the time of denervation. Androgen treatment converts laryngeal muscle from mixed slow and fast to all fast twitch in both innervated and denervated muscle. Thus, the nerve is not required for androgen-regulated fiber type expression in either sex. Denervation produces muscle fiber atrophy and androgen treatment induces muscle fiber hypertrophy in male and female larynx. Nerve and hormone effects are independent and additive; fiber size in androgen-treated denervated muscle is greater than in untreated innervated muscle, and fiber size in androgen-treated denervated muscle is smaller than in androgen-treated innervated muscle. There is no sex difference in the effects of innervation or androgen on fiber size. Denervation causes laryngeal muscle fiber loss in males but not in females. Androgen treatment protects male laryngeal muscle from denervation-induced fiber loss and causes fiber addition in innervated female laryngeal muscle. We conclude that there is a sexually dimorphic interaction between innervation and androgen in control of laryngeal muscle fiber number.