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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Jan;1830(1):2105-17. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2012.09.024. Epub 2012 Oct 4.

Treatment with pharmacological PPARα agonists stimulates the ubiquitin proteasome pathway and myofibrillar protein breakdown in skeletal muscle of rodents.

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  • 1Institute of Animal Nutrition and Nutritional Physiology, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany.



Treatment of hyperlipidemic patients with fibrates, agonists of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα), provokes muscle atrophy as a side effect. The molecular mechanism underlying this phenomenon is still unknown. We tested the hypothesis that activation of PPARα leads to an up-regulation of the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) which plays a major role in protein degradation in muscle.


Rats, wild-type and PPARα-deficient mice (PPARα(-/-)) were treated with synthetic PPARα agonists (clofibrate, WY-14,643) to study their effect on the UPS and myofibrillar protein breakdown in muscle.


In rats and wild-type mice but not PPARα(-/-) mice, clofibrate or WY-14,643 caused increases in mRNA and protein levels of the ubiquitin ligases atrogin-1 and MuRF1 in muscle. Wild-type mice treated with WY-14,643 had a greater 3-methylhistidine release from incubated muscle and lesser muscle weights. In addition, wild-type mice but not PPARα(-/-) mice treated with WY-14,643 had higher amounts of ubiquitin-protein conjugates, a decreased activity of PI3K/Akt1 signalling, and an increased activity of FoxO1 transcription factor in muscle. Reporter gene and gel shift experiments revealed that the atrogin-1 and MuRF1 promoter do not contain functional PPARα DNA-binding sites.


These findings indicate that fibrates stimulate ubiquitination of proteins in skeletal muscle which in turn stimulates protein degradation. Up-regulation of ubiquitin ligases is probably not mediated by PPARα-dependent gene transcription but by PPARα-dependent inhibition of the PI3K/Akt1 signalling pathway leading to activation of FoxO1.


PPARα plays a role in the regulation of the ubiquitin proteasome system.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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