Skeletal muscle atrophy is a pathological condition that contributes to morbidity in a variety of conditions including denervation, cachexia, and aging. Muscle atrophy is characterized as decreased muscle fiber cross-sectional area and protein content due, in part, to the proteolytic activities of two muscle-specific E3 ubiquitin ligases: muscle RING-finger 1 (MuRF1) and muscle atrophy F-box (MAFbx or Atrogin-1). The nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) pathway has emerged as a critical signaling network in skeletal muscle atrophy and has become a prime therapeutic target for the treatment of muscle diseases. Unfortunately, none of the NF-κB targeting drugs are currently being used to treat these diseases, likely because of our limited knowledge and specificity, for muscle biology and disease. The cellular inhibitor of apoptosis 1 (cIAP1) protein is a positive regulator of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα)-mediated classical NF-κB signaling, and cIAP1 loss has been shown to enhance muscle regeneration during acute and chronic injury.
Sciatic nerve transection in wild-type, cIAP1-null and Smac mimetic compound (SMC)-treated mice was performed to investigate the role of cIAP1 in denervation-induced atrophy. Genetic in vitro models of C2C12 myoblasts and primary myoblasts were also used to examine the role of classical NF-κB activity in cIAP1-induced myotube atrophy.
We found that cIAP1 expression was upregulated in denervated muscles compared to non-denervated controls 14 days after denervation. Genetic and pharmacological loss of cIAP1 attenuated denervation-induced muscle atrophy and overexpression of cIAP1 in myotubes was sufficient to induce atrophy. The induction of myotube atrophy by cIAP1 was attenuated when the classical NF-κB signaling pathway was inhibited.
These results demonstrate the cIAP1 is an important mediator of NF-κB/MuRF1 signaling in skeletal muscle atrophy and is a promising therapeutic target for muscle wasting diseases.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute