Abstract P180: Atrogin-1, a Muscle-Specific Ubiquitin Ligase, Drives Atrophic Remodeling of the Heart
The heart adapts to changes in load by remodeling both metabolically and structurally. During this process, cardiomyocytes break down unnecessary or damaged proteins and use the resulting amino acids for the synthesis of new proteins and/or energy provision. Protein degradation via the ubiquitin proteasome system is controlled by ubiquitin ligases, which determine the specific proteins to be degraded. Atrogin-1, a muscle specific ubiquitin ligase, is required for skeletal muscle atrophy, and over-expressing Atrogin-1 inhibits the development of cardiac hypertrophy. We now tested the hypothesis that Atrogin-1 is required for atrophic remodeling of the unloaded heart. Hearts from wild type (WT) and Atrogin-1 -/- mice (8-10 weeks old, n=8-12) were subjected to mechanical unloading by heterotopic transplantation. In WT hearts, seven days of unloading significantly reduced heart weight and myocyte cross-sectional area, while hearts lacking Atrogin-1 significantly hypertrophied (at least a 1.5-fold increase in heart weight, 2-fold increase in myocyte area). Conventional markers of atrophic remodeling, such as the reactivation of the fetal gene program (ANF, MHC isoform switch), were detected in both WT and Atrogin-1 -/- transplanted hearts. Proteasome activity and markers of autophagy were increased after unloading, although not significantly different between WT and Atrogin-1 -/- hearts. Pathways regulating protein synthesis were enhanced in the absence of Atrogin-1; there was an increase in activated Akt and its downstream pathway including mTOR, 4E-BP1, and p70 S6 kinase. Additionally, two known targets of Atrogin-1 involved in hypertrophy and protein synthesis, calcineurin and eukaryotic initiation factor 3f, were upregulated in unloaded Atrogin-1 deficient hearts. Consequently, “unloaded” cardiomyocytes lacking Atrogin-1 in vitro exhibit increased basal rates of protein synthesis. The results suggest that Atrogin-1 not only enhances protein degradation, but also keeps protein synthesis in check. Thus Atrogin-1 has a duel role in regulating cardiac mass.
- © 2011 by American Heart Association, Inc.