Research ArticleMUSCLE BIOLOGY

mTORC1 Promotes Denervation-Induced Muscle Atrophy Through a Mechanism Involving the Activation of FoxO and E3 Ubiquitin Ligases

Sci. Signal.  25 Feb 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 314, pp. ra18
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004809

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Abstract

Skeletal muscle mass and function are regulated by motor innervation, and denervation results in muscle atrophy. The activity of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is substantially increased in denervated muscle, but its regulatory role in denervation-induced atrophy remains unclear. At early stages after denervation of skeletal muscle, a pathway involving class II histone deacetylases and the transcription factor myogenin mediates denervation-induced muscle atrophy. We found that at later stages after denervation of fast-twitch muscle, activation of mTORC1 contributed to atrophy and that denervation-induced atrophy was mitigated by inhibition of mTORC1 with rapamycin. Activation of mTORC1 through genetic deletion of its inhibitor TSC1 (tuberous sclerosis complex 1) sensitized mice to denervation-induced muscle atrophy and suppressed the kinase activity of Akt, leading to activation of FoxO transcription factors and increasing the expression of genes encoding E3 ubiquitin ligases atrogin [also known as MAFbx (muscle atrophy F-box protein)] and MuRF1 (muscle-specific ring finger 1). Rapamycin treatment of mice restored Akt activity, suggesting that the denervation-induced increase in mTORC1 activity was producing feedback inhibition of Akt. Genetic deletion of the three FoxO isoforms in skeletal muscle induced muscle hypertrophy and abolished the late-stage induction of E3 ubiquitin ligases after denervation, thereby preventing denervation-induced atrophy. These data revealed that mTORC1, which is generally considered to be an important component of anabolism, is central to muscle catabolism and atrophy after denervation. This mTORC1-FoxO axis represents a potential therapeutic target in neurogenic muscle atrophy.

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