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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2009 Feb;296(2):C363-71. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00497.2008. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Calpain-1 is required for hydrogen peroxide-induced myotube atrophy.

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  • 1Dept. of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, Univ. of Florida, Rm. 25 Florida Gym, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


Recent reports suggest numerous roles for cysteine proteases in the progression of skeletal muscle atrophy due to disuse or disease. Nonetheless, a specific requirement for these proteases in the progression of skeletal muscle atrophy has not been demonstrated. Therefore, this investigation determined whether calpains or caspase-3 is required for oxidant-induced C2C12 myotube atrophy. We demonstrate that exposure to hydrogen peroxide (25 microM H2O2) induces myotube oxidative damage and atrophy, with no evidence of cell death. Twenty-four hours of exposure to H2O2 significantly reduced both myotube diameter and the abundance of numerous proteins, including myosin (-81%), alpha-actinin (-40%), desmin (-79%), talin (-37%), and troponin I (-80%). Myotube atrophy was also characterized by increased cleavage of the cysteine protease substrate alphaII-spectrin following 4 h and 24 h of H2O2 treatment. This degradation was blocked by administration of the protease inhibitor leupeptin (10 microM). Using small interfering RNA transfection of mature myotubes against the specific proteases calpain-1, calpain-2, and caspase-3, we demonstrated that calpain-1 is required for H2O2-induced myotube atrophy. Collectively, our data provide the first evidence for an absolute requirement for calpain-1 in the development of skeletal muscle myotube atrophy in response to oxidant-induced cellular stress.

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