Skeletal muscle, as a consequence of its mass and great capacity for altered metabolism, has a major impact on whole-body metabolic homeostasis and is capable of remarkable adaptation in response to various physiological stimuli, including exercise and dietary intervention. Exercise-induced increases in skeletal muscle mRNA levels of a number of genes have been reported, due to transcriptional activation and/or increased mRNA stability. The cellular adaptations to exercise training appear to be due to the cumulative effects of transient increases in gene transcription after repeated exercise bouts. The relative importance of transcriptional (mRNA synthesis) and translational (mRNA stability or translational efficiency) mechanisms for the training-induced increases in skeletal muscle protein abundance remains to be fully elucidated. Dietary manipulation, and the associated alterations in nutrient availability and hormone levels, can also modify skeletal muscle gene expression, although fewer studies have been reported. A major challenge is to understand how exercise and diet exert their effects on gene and protein expression in skeletal muscle. In relation to exercise, potential stimuli include stretch and muscle tension, the pattern of motor nerve activity and the resultant calcium transients, the energy charge of the cell and substrate availability, oxygen tension and circulating hormones. These are detected by various cellular signaling mechanisms, acting on a range of downstream targets and a wide range of putative transcription factors. A key goal in the years ahead is to identify how alterations at the level of gene expression are coupled to the changes in skeletal muscle phenotype. It is clear that gene expression, although representing a specific site of regulation, is only one step in a complex cascade from the initial stimulus to the final phenotypic adaptation and integrated physiological response.
Field of Research
060405 Gene Expression (incl Microarray and other genome-wide approaches)