Overexpression of GLUT4 in skeletal muscle enhances whole-body insulin action. Exercise increases GLUT4 gene and protein expression, and a binding site for the myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF-2) is required on the GLUT4 promoter for this response. However, the molecular mechanisms involved remain elusive. In various cell systems, MEF-2 regulation is a balance between transcriptional repression by histone deacetylases (HDACs) and transcriptional activation by the nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor- coactivator 1 (PGC-1), and the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. The purpose of this study was to determine if these same mechanisms regulate MEF-2 in contracting human skeletal muscle. Seven subjects performed 60 min of cycling at 70% of Vo2peak. After exercise, HDAC5 was dissociated from MEF-2 and exported from the nucleus, whereas nuclear PGC-1 was associated with MEF-2. Exercise increased total and nuclear p38 phosphorylation and association with MEF-2, without changes in total or nuclear p38 protein abundance. This result was associated with p38 sequence-specific phosphorylation of MEF-2 and an increase in GLUT4 mRNA. Finally, we found no role for NFAT in MEF-2 regulation. From these data, it appears that HDAC5, PGC-1, and p38 regulate MEF-2 and could be potential targets for modulating GLUT4 expression.
Field of Research
060104 Cell Metabolism
Socio Economic Objective
970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
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