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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34081. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034081. Epub 2012 Apr 4.

TRAF6 promotes myogenic differentiation via the TAK1/p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and Akt pathways.

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Division of Life Science, State Key Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clearwater Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China.


p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is an essential kinase involved in myogenic differentiation. Although many substrates of p38 MAPK have been identified, little is known about its upstream activators during myogenic differentiation. TRAF6 is known to function in cytokine signaling during inflammatory responses. However, not much is known about its role in myogenic differentiation and muscle regeneration. We showed here that TRAF6 and its intrinsic ubiquitin E3 ligase activity are required for myogenic differentiation. In mouse myoblasts, knockdown of TRAF6 compromised the p38 MAPK and Akt pathways, while deliberate activation of either pathway rescued the differentiation defect caused by TRAF6 knockdown. TAK1 acted as a key signal transducer downstream of TRAF6 in myogenic differentiation. In vivo, knockdown of TRAF6 in mouse muscles compromised the injury-induced muscle regeneration without impairing macrophage infiltration and myoblast proliferation. Collectively, we demonstrated that TRAF6 promotes myogenic differentiation and muscle regeneration via the TAK1/p38 MAPK and Akt pathways.

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