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Am J Physiol. 1999 Aug;277(2 Pt 2):R601-6.

Skeletal muscle myostatin mRNA expression is fiber-type specific and increases during hindlimb unloading.

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  • 1Department of Integrative Biology, Pharmacology, and Physiology, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
  • 2U TX Med Sch, Houston


Transgenic mice lacking a functional myostatin (MSTN) gene demonstrate greater skeletal muscle mass resulting from muscle fiber hypertrophy and hyperplasia (McPherron, A. C., A. M. Lawler, and S. -J. Lee. Nature 387: 83-90, 1997). Therefore, we hypothesized that, in normal mice, MSTN may act as a negative regulator of muscle mass. Specifically, we hypothesized that the predominately slow (type I) soleus muscle, which demonstrates greater atrophy than the fast (type II) gastrocnemius-plantaris complex (Gast/PLT), would show more elevation in MSTN mRNA abundance during hindlimb unloading (HU). Surprisingly, MSTN mRNA was not detectable in weight-bearing or HU soleus muscle, which atrophied 42% by the 7th day of HU in female ICR mice. In contrast, MSTN mRNA was present in weight-bearing Gast/PLT muscle and was significantly elevated (67%) at 1 day but not at 3 or 7 days of HU. However, the Gast/PLT muscle had only atrophied 17% by the 7th day of HU. Because the soleus is composed only of type I and IIa fibers, whereas the Gast/PLT expresses type IId/x and IIb in addition to type I and IIa, it was necessary to perform a more careful analysis of the relationship between MSTN mRNA levels and myosin heavy-chain (MHC) isoform expression (as a marker of fiber type). A significant correlation (r = 0.725, P < 0. 0005) was noted between the percentage of MHC isoform IIb expression and MSTN mRNA abundance in several muscles of the mouse hindlimb. These results indicate that MSTN expression is not strongly associated with muscle atrophy induced by HU; however, it is strongly associated with MHC isoform IIb expression in normal muscle.

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