The findings could ultimately lead to novel drugs designed to change the composition of muscle, the researchers said. Such treatments might have the potential to boost physical strength and endurance in patients with a variety of muscle wasting conditions.
The research team, led by Bruce Spiegelman of Harvard Medical School, found that increasing activity of the gene known as PGC-1â in the skeletal muscles of mice caused them to become crowded with IIX muscle fibers, which are normally much less prevalent.
"One reason why less is known about IIX fibers is that no one muscle group is packed with them," Spiegelman said. "For the first time, we have a mouse model very enriched in IIX fibers. These mice show a greatly increased capacity to sustain physical activity."
Skeletal muscle converts chemical energy into motion and force, ranging from rapid and sudden bursts of intense activity to continuous low-intensity work, the researchers said. At one functional extreme, muscles such as the soleus--a broad, flat muscle found in the calf of the leg--perform slow but steady activities such as maintaining posture. At the other extreme, muscles such as the quadriceps typically perform intense and rapid activities.
To fulfill these varied roles, muscles vary in their proportion of "slow-twitch" muscle fibers (types I and IIA), ideal for slow and constant roles, and "fast-twitch" fibers (type IIB), better suited to rapid and sudden activity of shorter duration. The fiber types are defined by which "myosin heavy chains" (MHCs) they contain and by their metabolic capacity, a feature largely determined by the number of energy-producing mitochondria they house. Myosins are motor proteins that consist of both "heavy" and "light" amino acid chains.
While most muscles in mammals contain a mixture of slow- and fast-twitch fiber types, some muscle beds are enriched for one type or the other, Spiegelman said. However, adult skeletal muscles also contain fibers with an abundance of a fourth MHC, type IIX, about which much less is known.
IIX fibers seem to have the oxidative metabolism of slow-twitch fibers mixed with the biophysical properties of fast-twitch fibers. Oxidative metabolism is by far the most efficient way of generating energy, Spiegelman said.
In the current study, the researchers produced mice with higher than normal levels of the transcriptional coactivator PGC-1â in their skeletal muscles. Transcriptional coactivators work with other cellular factors and machinery to control the activity of other genes. While earlier studies had found that the related coactivator PGC-1â plays a role in determining muscle type, the role of PGC-1â wasn't known.
"The muscle from the PGC-1â transgenic mice was strikingly redder in appearance than wild-type controls," indicative of their increased mitochondrial content, the researchers now report. Upon further examination, the researchers were surprised to find that the fibers showed a reduction in I, IIA, and IIB MHCs and as much as a 5-fold increase in IIX MHC.
Nearly 100% of muscle fibers in the transgenic animals contained abundant MHC IIX mRNA and protein, they found, as compared to only 15%–20% in normal animals. PGC-1â also changed the muscles' metabolic characteristics by driving the activity of genes that spark proliferation of mitochondria.
The PGC-1â animals with more IIX muscle fibers showed a greater capacity for aerobic exercise, they found. Transgenic mice were able to run, on average, for 32.5 min to exhaustion, compared to 26 min for their normal littermates, Spiegelman's group reported.
"These data have potential importance for the therapy of a number of muscular and neuromuscular diseases in humans," Spiegelman's group concluded.
"Many conditions accompanied by loss of physical mobility, including paraplegia, prolonged bed rest, and muscular dystrophies, involve a loss of oxidative fibers and their replacement with glycolytic fibers. This, in turn, results in a further loss of resistance to fatigue, exacerbating the patient's condition in a downward spiral. The identification of PGC-1â as a potential mediator of the development of oxidative type IIX fibers suggests new ways to modulate muscle fiber type in health and disease."
Erin Doonan | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy