Myostatin induces degradation of sarcomeric proteins through a Smad3 signaling mechanism during skeletal muscle wasting

Sudarsanareddy Lokireddy*, Craig McFarlane, Xiaojia Ge, Huoming Zhang, Siu Kwan Sze, Mridula Sharma, Ravi Kambadur

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    95 Scopus citations


    Ubiquitination-mediated proteolysis is a hallmark of skeletal muscle wasting manifested in response to negative growth factors, including myostatin. Thus, the characterization of signaling mechanisms that induce the ubiquitination of intracellular and sarcomeric proteins during skeletal muscle wasting is of great importance. We have recently characterized myostatin as a potent negative regulator of myogenesis and further demonstrated that elevated levels of myostatin in circulation results in the up-regulation of the muscle-specific E3 ligases, Atrogin-1 and muscle ring finger protein 1 (MuRF1). However, the exact signaling mechanisms by which myostatin regulates the expression of Atrogin-1 and MuRF1, as well as the proteins targeted for degradation in response to excess myostatin, remain to be elucidated. In this report, we have demonstrated that myostatin signals through Smad3 (mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 3) to activate fork-head box O1 and Atrogin-1 expression, which further promotes the ubiquitination and subsequent proteasome-mediated degradation of critical sarcomeric proteins. Smad3 signaling was dispensable for myostatin-dependent overexpression of MuRF1. Although down-regulation of Atrogin-1 expression rescued approximately 80% of sarcomeric protein loss induced by myosta-tin, only about 20% rescue was seen when MuRF1 was silenced, implicating that Atrogin-1 is the predominant E3 ligase through which myostatin manifests skeletal muscle wasting. Furthermore, we have highlighted that Atrogin-1 not only associates with myosin heavy and light chain, but it also ubiquitinates these sarcomeric proteins. Based on presented data we propose a model whereby myostatin induces skeletal muscle wasting through targeting sarcomeric proteins via Smad3-mediated up-regulation of Atrogin-1 and forkhead box O1.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1936-1949
    Number of pages14
    JournalMolecular Endocrinology
    Issue number11
    StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Biology
    • Endocrinology

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