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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Oct 13;95(21):12100-5.

Role of calpain in skeletal-muscle protein degradation.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-6702, USA.

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  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2000 Jun 6;97(12):6920.


Although protein degradation is enhanced in muscle-wasting conditions and limits the rate of muscle growth in domestic animals, the proteolytic system responsible for degrading myofibrillar proteins in skeletal muscle is not well defined. The goals of this study were to evaluate the roles of the calpains (calcium-activated cysteine proteases) in mediating muscle protein degradation and the extent to which these proteases participate in protein turnover in muscle. Two strategies to regulate intracellular calpain activities were developed: overexpression of dominant-negative m-calpain and overexpression of calpastatin inhibitory domain. To express these constructs, L8 myoblast cell lines were transfected with LacSwitch plasmids, which allowed for isopropyl beta-D-thiogalactoside-dependent expression of the gene of interest. Inhibition of calpain stabilized fodrin, a well characterized calpain substrate. Under conditions of accelerated degradation (serum withdrawal), inhibition of m-calpain reduced protein degradation by 30%, whereas calpastatin inhibitory domain expression reduced degradation by 63%. Inhibition of calpain also stabilized nebulin. These observations indicate that calpains play key roles in the disassembly of sarcomeric proteins. Inhibition of calpain activity may have therapeutic value in treatment of muscle-wasting conditions and may enhance muscle growth in domestic animals.

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