Contributions of altered in vivo protein synthesis and degradation to unweighting atrophy of the soleus muscle in tail-suspended young female rats were analyzed daily for up to 6 days. Specific changes in myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins were also evaluated to assess their contributions to the loss of total protein. Synthesis of myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins was estimated by intramuscular (IM) injection and total protein by intraperitoneal (IP) injection of flooding doses of 3H-phenylalanine. Total protein loss was greatest during the first 3 days following suspension and was a consequence of the loss of myofibrillar rather than sarcoplasmic proteins. However, synthesis of total myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins diminished in parallel beginning in the first 24 hours. Therefore sarcoplasmic proteins must be spared due to a decrease in their degradation. In contrast, myofibrillar protein degradation increased, thus explaining the elevated degradation of the total pool. Following 72 hours of suspension, protein synthesis remained low, but the rate of myofibrillar protein loss diminished, suggesting a slowing of degradation. These various results show (1) acute loss of protein during unweighting atrophy is a consequence of decreased synthesis and increased degradation of myofibrillar proteins, and (2) sarcoplasmic proteins are spared due to slower degradation, likely explaining the sparing of plasma membrane receptors. Based on other published data, we propose that the slowing of atrophy after the initial response may be attributed to an increased effect of insulin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism