Role of the cytoskeleton in muscle transcriptional responses to altered use

Gretchen A. Meyer, Simon Schenk, Richard L. Lieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In this work, the interaction between the loss of a primary component of the skeletal muscle cytoskeleton, desmin, and two common physiological stressors, acute mechanical injury and aging, were investigated at the transcriptional, protein, and whole muscle levels. The transcriptional response of desmin knockout (des-/-) plantarflexors to a bout of 50 eccentric contractions (ECCs) showed substantial overlap with the response in wild-type (wt) muscle. However, changes in the expression of genes involved in muscle response to injury were blunted in adult des-/- muscle compared with wt (fold change with ECC in des-/- and wt, respectively: Mybph, 1.4 and 2.9; Xirp1, 2.2 and 5.7; Csrp3, 1.8 and 4.3), similar to the observed blunted mechanical response (torque drop: des-/- 30.3% and wt 55.5%). Interestingly, in the absence of stressors, des-/- muscle exhibited elevated expression of many these genes compared with wt. The largest transcriptional changes were observed in the interaction between aging and the absence of desmin, including many genes related to slow fiber pathway (Myh7, Myl3, Atp2a2, and Casq2) and insulin sensitivity (Tlr4, Trib3, Pdk3, and Pdk4). Consistent with these transcriptional changes, adult des-/- muscle exhibited a significant fiber type shift from fast to slow isoforms of myosin heavy chain (wt, 5.3% IIa and 71.7% IIb; des-/-, 8.4% IIa and 61.4% IIb) and a decreased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake (wt, 0.188 μmol/g muscle/20 min; des-/-, 0.085 μmol/g muscle/20 min). This work points to novel areas of influence of this cytoskeletal protein and directs future work to elucidate its function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-331
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiological genomics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013


  • Aging
  • Desmin
  • Eccentric contraction
  • Microarray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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