Hindlimb casting decreases muscle mass in part by proteasome-dependent proteolysis but independent of protein synthesis

Brian J. Krawiec, Robert A. Frost, Thomas C. Vary, Leonard S. Jefferson, Charles H. Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


The hypothesis of the present study was that rats subjected to short-term unilateral hindlimb immobilization would incur skeletal muscle wasting and concomitant alterations in protein synthesis, controllers of translation, and indexes of protein degradation. Rats were unilaterally casted for 1, 3, or 5 days to avoid complications associated with other disuse models. In the casted limb, gastrocnemius wet weight decreased 12% after 3 days and thereafter remained constant. In contrast, the contralateral control leg displayed a steady growth rate over time. The rate of protein synthesis and translational efficiency were unchanged in the immobilized muscle at day 5. The total amount and phosphorylation state of regulators of translational initiation and elongation were unaltered. The mRNA contents of polyubiquitin and the ubiquitin ligases muscle atrophy F-box (MAFbx)/Atrogin-1 and muscle RING finger 1 (MuRF1) were elevated in immobilized muscle at all time points, with peak expression occurring at day 3. Daily injection of the type II glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU-486 did not prevent decreases in gastrocnemius wet weight nor increases in mRNA for MAFbx/Atrogin-1 and MuRF1. However, in vivo administration of the proteasome inhibitor Velcade prevented 53% of wet weight loss associated with 3 days of immobilization. These data suggest that the loss of skeletal muscle mass in this model of disuse appears to be glucocorticoid independent, can be partially rescued with a potent proteasome inhibitor, and is associated with enhanced mRNA expression of multiple factors that contribute to ubiquitin-proteasome-dependent degradation and are likely to control the remodeling of immobilized skeletal muscle during atrophy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E969-E980
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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