AKT controls protein synthesis and oxidative metabolism via combined mTORC1 and FOXO1 signalling to govern muscle physiology

Natasha Jaiswal, Matthew Gavin, Emanuele Loro, Jaimarie Sostre-Colón, Paul A. Roberson, Kahealani Uehara, Nicole Rivera-Fuentes, Michael Neinast, Zoltan Arany, Scot R. Kimball, Tejvir S. Khurana, Paul M. Titchenell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Skeletomuscular diseases result in significant muscle loss and decreased performance, paralleled by a loss in mitochondrial and oxidative capacity. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) are two potent anabolic hormones that activate a host of signalling intermediates including the serine/threonine kinase AKT to influence skeletal muscle physiology. Defective AKT signalling is associated with muscle pathology, including cachexia, sarcopenia, and disuse; however, the mechanistic underpinnings remain unresolved. Methods: To elucidate the role of AKT signalling in muscle mass and physiology, we generated both congenital and inducible mouse models of skeletal muscle-specific AKT deficiency. To understand the downstream mechanisms mediating AKT's effects on muscle biology, we generated mice lacking AKT1/2 and FOXO1 (M-AKTFOXO1TKO and M-indAKTFOXO1TKO) to inhibit downstream FOXO1 signalling, AKT1/2 and TSC1 (M-AKTTSCTKO and M-indAKTTSCTKO) to activate mTORC1, and AKT1/2, FOXO1, and TSC1 (M-QKO and M-indQKO) to simultaneously activate mTORC1 and inhibit FOXO1 in AKT-deficient skeletal muscle. Muscle proteostasis and physiology were assessed using multiple assays including metabolic labelling, mitochondrial function, fibre typing, ex vivo physiology, and exercise performance. Results: Here, we show that genetic ablation of skeletal muscle AKT signalling resulted in decreased muscle mass and a loss of oxidative metabolism and muscle performance. Specifically, deletion of muscle AKT activity during development or in adult mice resulted in a significant reduction in muscle growth by 30–40% (P < 0.0001; n = 12–20) and 15% (P < 0.01 and P < 0.0001; n = 20–30), respectively. Interestingly, this reduction in muscle mass was primarily due to an ~40% reduction in protein synthesis in both M-AKTDKO and M-indAKTDKO muscles (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01; n = 12–20) without significant changes in proteolysis or autophagy. Moreover, a significant reduction in oxidative capacity was observed in both M-AKTDKO (P < 0.05, P < 0.01 and P < 0.001; n = 5–12) and M-indAKTDKO (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01; n = 4). Mechanistically, activation and inhibition of mTORC1/FOXO1, respectively, but neither alone, were sufficient to restore protein synthesis, muscle oxidative capacity, and muscle function in the absence of AKT in vivo. In a mouse model of disuse-induced muscle loss, simultaneous activation of mTORC1 and inhibition of FOXO1 preserved muscle mass following immobilization (~5–10% reduction in casted M-indFOXO1TSCDKO muscles vs. ~30–40% casted M-indControl muscles, P < 0.05 and P < 0.0001; n = 8–16). Conclusions: Collectively, this study provides novel insights into the AKT-dependent mechanisms that underlie muscle protein homeostasis, function, and metabolism in both normal physiology and disuse-induced muscle wasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-514
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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