To further understand molecular mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle hypertrophy, expression profiles of translationally and transcriptionally regulated genes were characterized following an acute bout of maximally activated eccentric contractions. Experiments demonstrated that translational mechanisms contribute to acute gene expression changes following high resistance contractions with two candidate mRNAs, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and elongation factor-1 alpha (EF1α), targeted to the heavier polysomal fractions after a bout of contractions. Gene profiling was performed using Affymetrix Rat U34A GeneChips with either total RNA or polysomal RNA at one and six hours following contractions. There were 18 genes that changed expression at one hour and 70 genes that were different (60 genes increased: 10 genes decreased) at six hours after contractions. The model from this profiling suggests that following high resistance contractions skeletal muscle shares a common growth profile with proliferating cells exposed to serum. This cluster of genes can be classified as 'growth' genes and is commonly associated with progression of the cell cycle. However, a unique aspect was that there was induction of a cluster of tumour suppressor or antigrowth genes. We propose that this cluster of 'antigrowth' genes is induced by the stress of contractile activity and may act to maintain skeletal muscle in the differentiated state. From the profiling results, further experiments determined that p53 levels increased in skeletal muscle at 6 h following contractions. This novel finding of p53 induction following exercise also demonstrates the power of expression profiling for identification of novel pathways involved in the response to muscle contraction.
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