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Changes in gene expression that occur within hours of exposure to hypoxia in in vivo skeletal muscles remain unexplored. Two hours of hypoxia caused significant down-regulation of extracellular matrix genes followed by a shift at 6 h to altered expression of genes associated with the nuclear lumen while respiratory and blood gases were stabilized. Enrichment analysis of mRNAs classified by stability rates suggests an attenuation of post-transcriptional regulation within hours of hypoxic exposure, where PI3K-Akt signalling was suggested to have a nodal role by pathway analysis. Experimental measurements and bioinformatic analyses suggested that the dephosphorylation of Akt after 2 h of hypoxic exposure might deactivate RNA-binding protein BRF1, hence resulting in the selective degradation of mRNAs. The effects of acute hypoxia have been widely studied, but there are few studies of transcriptional responses to hours of hypoxia in vivo, especially in hypoxia-tolerant tissues like skeletal muscles. We used RNA-seq to analyse gene expression in plantaris muscles while monitoring respiration, arterial blood gases, and blood glucose in mice exposed to 8% O2 for 2 or 6 h. Rapid decreases in blood gases and a slower reduction in blood glucose suggest stress, which was accompanied by widespread changes in gene expression. Early down-regulation of genes associated with the extracellular matrix was followed by a shift to genes associated with the nuclear lumen. Most of the early down-regulated genes had mRNA half-lives longer than 2 h, suggesting a role for post-transcriptional regulation. These transcriptional changes were enriched in signalling pathways in which the PI3K-Akt signalling pathway was identified as a hub. Our analyses indicated that gene targets of PI3K-Akt but not HIF were enriched in early transcriptional responses to hypoxia. Among the PI3K-Akt targets, 75% could be explained by a deactivation of adenylate-uridylate-rich element (ARE)-binding protein BRF1, a target of PI3K-Akt. Consistent decreases in the phosphorylation of Akt and BRF1 were experimentally confirmed following 2 h of hypoxia. These results suggest that the PI3K-Akt signalling pathway might play a role in responses induced by acute hypoxia in skeletal muscles, partially through the dephosphorylation of ARE-binding protein BRF1. © 2017 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2017 The Physiological Society.


Zhuohui Gan, Frank L Powell, Alexander C Zambon, Kyle S Buchholz, Zhenxing Fu, Karen Ocorr, Rolf Bodmer, Esteban A Moya, Jennifer C Stowe, Gabriel G Haddad, Andrew D McCulloch. Transcriptomic analysis identifies a role of PI3K-Akt signalling in the responses of skeletal muscle to acute hypoxia in vivo. The Journal of physiology. 2017 Sep 01;595(17):5797-5813

PMID: 28688178

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