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Cellular and molecular mechanisms of muscle atrophy

1 , 1 , 2

Disease Models & Mechanisms

The Company of Biologists Limited

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      Abstract

      Skeletal muscle is a plastic organ that is maintained by multiple pathways regulating cell and protein turnover. During muscle atrophy, proteolytic systems are activated, and contractile proteins and organelles are removed, resulting in the shrinkage of muscle fibers. Excessive loss of muscle mass is associated with poor prognosis in several diseases, including myopathies and muscular dystrophies, as well as in systemic disorders such as cancer, diabetes, sepsis and heart failure. Muscle loss also occurs during aging. In this paper, we review the key mechanisms that regulate the turnover of contractile proteins and organelles in muscle tissue, and discuss how impairments in these mechanisms can contribute to muscle atrophy. We also discuss how protein synthesis and degradation are coordinately regulated by signaling pathways that are influenced by mechanical stress, physical activity, and the availability of nutrients and growth factors. Understanding how these pathways regulate muscle mass will provide new therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of muscle atrophy in metabolic and neuromuscular diseases.

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      Most cited references 159

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        Autophagy, or cellular self-digestion, is a cellular pathway involved in protein and organelle degradation, with an astonishing number of connections to human disease and physiology. For example, autophagic dysfunction is associated with cancer, neurodegeneration, microbial infection and ageing. Paradoxically, although autophagy is primarily a protective process for the cell, it can also play a role in cell death. Understanding autophagy may ultimately allow scientists and clinicians to harness this process for the purpose of improving human health.
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          p62/SQSTM1 binds directly to Atg8/LC3 to facilitate degradation of ubiquitinated protein aggregates by autophagy.

          Protein degradation by basal constitutive autophagy is important to avoid accumulation of polyubiquitinated protein aggregates and development of neurodegenerative diseases. The polyubiquitin-binding protein p62/SQSTM1 is degraded by autophagy. It is found in cellular inclusion bodies together with polyubiquitinated proteins and in cytosolic protein aggregates that accumulate in various chronic, toxic, and degenerative diseases. Here we show for the first time a direct interaction between p62 and the autophagic effector proteins LC3A and -B and the related gamma-aminobutyrate receptor-associated protein and gamma-aminobutyrate receptor-associated-like proteins. The binding is mediated by a 22-residue sequence of p62 containing an evolutionarily conserved motif. To monitor the autophagic sequestration of p62- and LC3-positive bodies, we developed a novel pH-sensitive fluorescent tag consisting of a tandem fusion of the red, acid-insensitive mCherry and the acid-sensitive green fluorescent proteins. This approach revealed that p62- and LC3-positive bodies are degraded in autolysosomes. Strikingly, even rather large p62-positive inclusion bodies (2 microm diameter) become degraded by autophagy. The specific interaction between p62 and LC3, requiring the motif we have mapped, is instrumental in mediating autophagic degradation of the p62-positive bodies. We also demonstrate that the previously reported aggresome-like induced structures containing ubiquitinated proteins in cytosolic bodies are dependent on p62 for their formation. In fact, p62 bodies and these structures are indistinguishable. Taken together, our results clearly suggest that p62 is required both for the formation and the degradation of polyubiquitin-containing bodies by autophagy.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Italy
            [2 ]Dulbecco Telethon Institute, Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine, 35129 Padova, Italy
            Author notes
            Journal
            Dis Model Mech
            Dis Model Mech
            dmm
            DMM
            Disease Models & Mechanisms
            The Company of Biologists Limited
            1754-8403
            1754-8411
            January 2013
            : 6
            : 1
            : 25-39
            23268536
            3529336
            10.1242/dmm.010389
            0060025
            © 2012. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly cited and all further distributions of the work or adaptation are subject to the same Creative Commons License terms.

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            Molecular medicine

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