mTOR signaling regulates myotube hypertrophy by modulating protein synthesis, rDNA transcription, and chromatin remodeling

Ferdinand von Walden, Chang Liu, Nicole Aurigemma, Gustavo A. Nader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Ribosome production is an early event during skeletal muscle hypertrophy and precedes muscle protein accretion. Signaling via mTOR is crucial for ribosome production and hypertrophy; however, the mechanisms by which it regulates these processes remain to be identified. Herein, we investigated the activation of mTOR signaling in hypertrophying myotubes and determined that mTOR coordinates various aspects of gene expression important for ribosome production. First, inhibition of translation with cycloheximide had a more potent effect on protein synthesis than rapamycin indicating that mTOR function during hypertrophy is not on general, but rather on specific protein synthesis. Second, blocking Pol II transcription had a similar effect as Rapamycin and, unexpectedly, revealed the necessity of Pol II transcription for Pol I transcription, suggesting that mTOR may regulate ribosome production also by controlling Class II genes at the transcriptional level. Third, Pol I activity is essential for rDNA transcription and, surprisingly, for protein synthesis as selective Pol I inhibition blunted rDNA transcription, protein synthesis, and the hypertrophic response of myotubes. Finally, mTOR has nuclear localization in muscle, which is not sensitive to rapamycin. Inhibition of mTOR signaling by rapamycin disrupted mTOR-rDNA promoter interaction and resulted in altered histone marks indicative of repressed transcription and formation of higher-order chromatin structure. Thus mTOR signaling appears to regulate muscle hypertrophy by affecting protein synthesis, Class I and II gene expression, and chromatin remodeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C663-C672
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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