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J Biol Chem. 1997 Mar 7;272(10):6653-62.

The mitogenic and myogenic actions of insulin-like growth factors utilize distinct signaling pathways.

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Biology Department, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA.


It is well established that mitogens inhibit differentiation of skeletal muscle cells, but the insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), acting through a single receptor, stimulate both proliferation and differentiation of myoblasts. Although the IGF-I mitogenic signaling pathway has been extensively studied in other cell types, little is known about the signaling pathway leading to differentiation in skeletal muscle. By using specific inhibitors of the IGF signal transduction pathway, we have begun to define the signaling intermediates mediating the two responses to IGFs. We found that PD098059, an inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase kinase activation, inhibited IGF-stimulated proliferation of L6A1 myoblasts and the events associated with it, such as phosphorylation of the MAP kinases and elevation of c-fos mRNA and cyclin D protein. Surprisingly, PD098059 caused a dramatic enhancement of differentiation, evident both at a morphological (fusion of myoblasts into myotubes) and biochemical level (elevation of myogenin and p21 cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor expression, as well as creatine kinase activity). In sharp contrast, LY294002, an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and rapamycin, an inhibitor of the activation of p70 S6 kinase (p70(S6k)), completely abolished IGF stimulation of L6A1 differentiation. We found that p70(S6k) activity increased substantially during differentiation, and this increase was further enhanced by PD098059. Our results demonstrate that the MAP kinase pathway plays a primary role in the mitogenic response and is inhibitory to the myogenic response in L6A1 myoblasts, while activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/p70(S6k) pathway is essential for IGF-stimulated differentiation. Thus, it appears that signaling from the IGF-I receptor utilizes two distinct pathways leading either to proliferation or differentiation.

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