Author(s): Parsons SA, Wilkins BJ, Bueno OF, Molkentin JD
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Abstract Calcineurin is a calcium-regulated serine-threonine protein phosphatase that controls developmental and inducible biological responses in diverse cell types, in part through activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT). In skeletal muscle, calcineurin has been implicated in the regulation of myoblast differentiation, hypertrophy of mature myofibers, and fiber type switching in response to alterations in intracellular calcium concentration. However, considerable disagreement persists about the functional role of calcineurin signaling in each of these processes. Here we evaluated the molecular phenotypes of skeletal muscle from both calcineurin Aalpha and calcineurin Abeta gene-targeted mice. Calcineurin Aalpha was observed to be the predominant catalytic isoform expressed in nearly all skeletal muscles examined. Neither calcineurin Aalpha or Abeta null mice showed any gross growth-related alterations in skeletal muscle, nor was fiber size or number altered in glycolytic/fast muscle types. In contrast, both calcineurin Aalpha and Abeta gene-targeted mice demonstrated an alteration in myofiber number in the soleus, an oxidative/slow-type muscle. More significantly, calcineurin Aalpha and Abeta gene-targeted mice showed a dramatic down-regulation in the oxidative/slow fiber type program in multiple muscles (both slow and fast). Associated with this observation, NFAT-luciferase reporter transgenic mice showed significantly greater activity in slow fiber-containing muscles than in fast. However, only calcineurin Aalpha null mice showed a defect in NFAT nuclear occupancy or NFAT-luciferase transgene activity in vivo. Collectively, our results suggest that calcineurin signaling plays a critical role in regulating skeletal muscle fiber type switching but not hypertrophy. Our results also suggest that fiber type switching occurs through an NFAT-independent mechanism.
This article was published in Mol Cell Biol
and referenced in International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation