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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2000 Oct;279(4):R1165-70.

NF-kappaB mediates the protein loss induced by TNF-alpha in differentiated skeletal muscle myotubes.

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Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) regulates the transcription of a variety of genes involved in immune responses, cell growth, and cell death. However, the role of NF-kappaB in muscle biology is poorly understood. We recently reported that tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) rapidly activates NF-kappaB in differentiated skeletal muscle myotubes and that TNF-alpha acts directly on the muscle cell to induce protein degradation. In the present study, we ask whether NF-kappaB mediates the protein loss induced by TNF-alpha. We addressed this problem by creating stable, transdominant negative muscle cell lines. C2C12 myoblasts were transfected with viral plasmid constructs that induce overexpression of mutant I-kappaBalpha proteins that are insensitive to degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. These mutant proteins selectively inhibit NF-kappaB activation. We found that differentiated myotubes transfected with the empty viral vector (controls) underwent a drop in total protein content and in fast-type myosin heavy-chain content during 72 h of exposure to TNF-alpha. In contrast, total protein and fast-type myosin heavy-chain levels were unaltered by TNF-alpha in the transdominant negative cell lines. TNF-alpha did not induce apoptosis in any cell line, as assessed by DNA ladder and annexin V assays. These data indicate that NF-kappaB is an essential mediator of TNF-alpha-induced catabolism in differentiated muscle cells.

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