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What is the central question of this study? Striated Muscle activator of Rho signalling (STARS) is an actin-binding protein that regulates transcriptional pathways controlling muscle function, growth and myogenesis; processes impaired in dystrophic muscle. Regulation of the STARS pathway in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD is unknown. What is the main finding and its importance? Members of the STARS signalling pathway are reduced in the quadriceps of patients with DMD and in mouse models of muscular dystrophy. Overexpression of STARS in the dystrophic deficient mdx mouse model increased maximal isometric specific force and upregulated members of the actin cytoskeleton and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) pathways. Regulating STARS may be a therapeutic approach to enhance muscle health. Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is characterized by impaired cytoskeleton organization, cytosolic calcium handling, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. This results in progressive muscle damage, wasting and weakness and premature death. The Striated Muscle activator of Rho signalling (STARS) is an actin-binding protein that activates the myocardin-related transcription factor-A (MRTFA)/serum response factor (SRF) transcriptional pathway; a pathway regulating cytoskeletal structure and muscle function, growth and repair. We investigated the regulation of the STARS pathway in the quadriceps muscle from patients with DMD and in the tibialis anterior (TA) muscle from the dystrophin-deficient mdx and dko (utrophin and dystrophin null) mice. Protein levels of STARS, SRF and RHOA were reduced in patients with DMD. STARS, SRF and MRTFA mRNA levels were also decreased in DMD muscle, while Stars mRNA levels were decreased in the mdx mice and Srf and Mrtfa mRNAs decreased in the dko mice. Overexpressing human STARS (hSTARS) in the TA muscles of mdx mice increased maximal isometric specific force by 13% (p<0.05). This was not associated with changes in muscle mass, fibre cross-sectional area (CSA), fibre type, centralised nuclei or collagen deposition. Proteomics screening, followed by pathway enrichment analysis, identified that hSTARS overexpression resulted in 31 upregulated and 22 downregulated proteins belonging to the actin cytoskeleton and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) pathways. These pathways are impaired in dystrophic muscle and regulate processes that are vital for muscle function. Increasing the STARS protein in dystrophic muscle improves muscle force production, potentially via synergistic regulation of cytoskeletal structure and energy production. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Citation

Kate J Sadler, Paul A Della Gatta, Timur Naim, Marita A Wallace, Albert Lee, Thiri Zaw, Angus Lindsay, Roger S Chung, Luca Bello, Elena Pegoraro, Séverine Lamon, Gordon S Lynch, Aaron P Russell. STARS overexpression in the mdx mouse enhances muscle functional capacity and regulates the actin cytoskeleton and oxidative phosphorylation pathways. Experimental physiology. 2021 May 07


PMID: 33963617

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