How mechanochemical signals induced by the amount of weight borne by the skeletal musculature are translated into modifications to muscle sarcomeres is poorly understood. Our laboratory recently demonstrated that, in response to experimentally induced increases in the weight load borne by a rat, alternative splicing of the fast skeletal muscle troponin T (Tnnt3) pre-mRNA in gastrocnemius was adjusted in a correlated fashion with the amount of added weight. (Schilder RJ, Kimball SR, Marden JH, Jefferson LS. J Exp Biol 214: 1523-1532, 2011). Thus muscle load is perceived quantitatively by the body, and mechanisms that sense it appear to control processes that generate muscle sarcomere composition plasticity, such as alternative pre-mRNA splicing. Here we demonstrate how mechanical stretch (see earlier comment) of C2C12 muscle cells in culture results in changes to Tnnt3 pre-mRNA alternative splicing that are qualitatively similar to those observed in response to added weight in rats. Moreover, inhibition of Akt signaling, but not that of ERK1/2, prevents the stretch-induced effect on Tnnt3 pre-mRNA alternative splicing. These findings suggest that effects of muscle load on Tnnt3 pre-mRNA alternative splicing are controlled by a cell-autonomous mechanism, rather than systemically. They also indicate that, in addition to its regulatory role in protein synthesis and muscle mass plasticity, Akt signaling may regulate muscle sarcomere composition by modulating alternative splicing events in response to load. Manipulation of Tnnt3 pre-mRNA alternative splicing by mechanical stretch of cells in culture provides a model to investigate the biology of weight sensing by skeletal muscles and facilitates identification of mechanisms through which skeletal muscles match their performance and experienced load.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology