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Mol Cell. 2004 May 7;14(3):395-403.

The IGF-1/PI3K/Akt pathway prevents expression of muscle atrophy-induced ubiquitin ligases by inhibiting FOXO transcription factors.

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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 777 Old Saw Mill River Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591, USA.


Skeletal muscle size depends upon a dynamic balance between anabolic (or hypertrophic) and catabolic (or atrophic) processes. Previously, no link between the molecular mediators of atrophy and hypertrophy had been reported. We demonstrate a hierarchy between the signals which mediate hypertrophy and those which mediate atrophy: the IGF-1/PI3K/Akt pathway, which has been shown to induce hypertrophy, prevents induction of requisite atrophy mediators, namely the muscle-specific ubiquitin ligases MAFbx and MuRF1. Moreover, the mechanism for this inhibition involves Akt-mediated inhibition of the FoxO family of transcription factors; a mutant form of FOXO1, which prevents Akt phosphorylation, thereby prevents Akt-mediated inhibition of MuRF1 and MAFbx upregulation. Our study thus defines a previously uncharacterized function for Akt, which has important therapeutic relevance: Akt is not only capable of activating prosynthetic pathways, as previously demonstrated, but is simultaneously and dominantly able to suppress catabolic pathways, allowing it to prevent glucocorticoid and denervation-induced muscle atrophy.

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