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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Jan;292(1):R328-36. Epub 2006 Aug 31.

Burn-induced increase in atrogin-1 and MuRF-1 in skeletal muscle is glucocorticoid independent but downregulated by IGF-I.

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


The present study determined whether thermal injury increases the expression of the ubiquitin (Ub) E3 ligases referred to as muscle ring finger (MuRF)-1 and muscle atrophy F-box (MAFbx; aka atrogin-1), which are muscle specific and responsible for the increased protein breakdown observed in other catabolic conditions. After 48 h of burn injury (40% total body surface area full-thickness scald burn) gastrocnemius weight was reduced, and this change was associated with an increased mRNA abundance for atrogin-1 and MuRF-1 (3.1- to 8-fold, respectively). Similarly, burn increased polyUb mRNA content in the gastrocnemius twofold. In contrast, there was no burn-induced atrophy of the soleus and no significant change in atrogin-1, MuRF-1, or polyUb mRNA. Burns also did not alter E3 ligase expression in heart. Four hours after administration of the anabolic agent insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I to burned rats, the mRNA content of atrogin-1 and polyUb in gastrocnemius had returned to control values and the elevation in MuRF-1 was reduced 50%. In contrast, leucine did not alter E3 ligase expression. In a separate study, in vivo administration of the proteasome inhibitor Velcade prevented burn-induced loss of muscle mass determined at 48 h. Finally, administration of the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU-486 did not prevent burn-induced atrophy of the gastrocnemius or the associated elevation in atrogin-1, MuRF-1, or polyUb. In summary, the acute muscle wasting accompanying thermal injury is associated with a glucocorticoid-independent increase in the expression of several Ub E3 ligases that can be downregulated by IGF-I.

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