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Biochem J. Sep 15, 1984; 222(3): 579–586.
PMCID: PMC1144218

Specificity of the effects of leucine and its metabolites on protein degradation in skeletal muscle.


The effects of leucine, its metabolites, and the 2-oxo acids of valine and isoleucine on protein synthesis and degradation in incubated limb muscles of immature and adult rats were tested. Leucine stimulated protein synthesis but did not reduce proteolysis when leucine transamination was inhibited. 4-Methyl-2-oxopentanoate at concentrations as low as 0.25 mM inhibited protein degradation but did not change protein synthesis. The 2-oxo acids of valine and isoleucine did not change protein synthesis or degradation even at concentrations as high as 5 mM. 3-Methylvalerate, the irreversibly decarboxylated product of 4-methyl-2-oxopentanoate, decreased protein degradation at concentrations greater than or equal to 1 mM. This was not due to inhibition of 4-methyl-2-oxopentanoate catabolism, because 0.5 mM-3-methylvalerate did not suppress proteolysis, even though it inhibited leucine decarboxylation by 30%; higher concentrations of 3-methylvalerate decreased proteolysis progressively without inhibiting leucine decarboxylation further. During incubation with [1-14C]- and [U-14C]-leucine, it was found that products of leucine catabolism formed subsequent to the decarboxylation of 4-methyl-2-oxopentanoate accumulated intracellularly. This pattern was not seen during incubation with radiolabelled valine. Thus, the effect of leucine on muscle proteolysis requires transamination to 4-methyl-2-oxopentanoate. The inhibition of muscle protein degradation by leucine is most sensitive to, but not specific for, its 2-oxo acid, 4-methyl-2-oxopentanoate.

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Selected References

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