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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Jun;112(11):1839-46. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00346.2011. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Aerobic exercise training upregulates skeletal muscle calpain and ubiquitin-proteasome systems in healthy mice.

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School of Physical Education and Sport, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Aerobic exercise training (AET) is an important mechanical stimulus that modulates skeletal muscle protein turnover, leading to structural rearrangement. Since the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and calpain system are major proteolytic pathways involved in protein turnover, we aimed to investigate the effects of intensity-controlled AET on the skeletal muscle UPS and calpain system and their association to training-induced structural adaptations. Long-lasting effects of AET were studied in C57BL/6J mice after 2 or 8 wk of AET. Plantaris cross-sectional area (CSA) and capillarization were assessed by myosin ATPase staining. mRNA and protein expression levels of main components of the UPS and calpain system were evaluated in plantaris by real-time PCR and Western immunoblotting, respectively. No proteolytic system activation was observed after 2 wk of AET. Eight weeks of AET resulted in improved running capacity, plantaris capillarization, and CSA. Muscle RING finger-1 mRNA expression was increased in 8-wk-trained mice. Accordingly, elevated 26S proteasome activity was observed in the 8-wk-trained group, without accumulation of ubiquitinated or carbonylated proteins. In addition, calpain abundance was increased by 8 wk of AET, whereas no difference was observed in its endogenous inhibitor calpastatin. Taken together, our findings indicate that skeletal muscle enhancements, as evidenced by increased running capacity, plantaris capillarization, and CSA, occurred in spite of the upregulated UPS and calpain system, suggesting that overactivation of skeletal muscle proteolytic systems is not restricted to atrophying states. Our data provide evidence for the contribution of the UPS and calpain system to metabolic turnover of myofibrillar proteins and skeletal muscle adaptations to AET.

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