α-Actinin-3 deficiency alters muscle adaptation in response to denervation and immobilization


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Abstract

Homozygosity for a common null polymorphism (R577X) in theACTN3gene results in the absence of the fast fibre-specific protein, α-actinin-3 in ∽16% of humans worldwide. α-Actinin-3 deficiency is detrimental to optimal sprint performance and benefits endurance performance in elite athletes. In the general population, α-actinin-3 deficiency is associated with reduced muscle mass, strength and fast muscle fibre area, and poorer muscle function with age. TheActn3knock-out (KO) mouse model mimics the human phenotype, with fast fibres showing a shift towards slow/oxidative metabolism without a change in myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoform. We have recently shown that these changes are attributable to increased activity of the calcineurin-dependent signalling pathway in α-actinin-3 deficient muscle, resulting in enhanced response to exercise training. This led us to hypothesize that theActn3genotype influences muscle adaptation to disuse, irrespective of neural innervation. Separate cohorts of KO and wild-type mice underwent 2 weeks immobilization and 2 and 8 weeks of denervation. Absence of α-actinin-3 resulted in reduced atrophic response and altered adaptation to disuse, as measured by a change in MyHC isoform. KO mice had a lower threshold to switch from the predominantly fast to a slower muscle phenotype (in response to immobilization) and a higher threshold to switch to a faster muscle phenotype (in response to denervation). We propose that this change is mediated through baseline alterations in the calcineurin signalling pathway ofActn3KO muscle. Our findings have important implications for understanding individual responses to muscle disuse/disease and training in the general population.

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