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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Jan 9;313(2):423-7.

Regulation of global and specific mRNA translation by oral administration of branched-chain amino acids.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


The importance of branched-chain amino acids as nutrient regulators of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle was recognized more than 20 years ago. Of the branched-chain amino acids, leucine in particular was shown to play a central role in promoting muscle protein synthesis. However, it was only recently that the mechanism(s) involved in the stimulation of protein synthesis by leucine has begun to be defined. Studies performed in our laboratory during the past few years have revealed that oral administration of leucine to fasted rats enhances protein synthesis in association with increased phosphorylation of two proteins downstream of the protein kinase referred to as the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). These proteins, eukaryotic initiation factor eIF4E binding protein (4E-BP)1 and ribosomal protein S6 kinase S6K1, control in part the step in translation initiation involving the binding of mRNA to the 40S ribosomal subunit. In theory the translation of all mRNAs can be regulated through such mechanisms, however, some mRNAs are more sensitive to the changes than others, resulting in modulation of gene expression through altered patterns of translation of specific mRNAs. Moreover, although a basal amount of plasma insulin is required for leucine to enhance signaling downstream of mTOR, the concentration observed in plasma of fasted rats is sufficient to observe maximal changes in phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 and S6K1.

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