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    It is well established that microgravity exposure causes significant muscle weakness and atrophy via muscle unloading. On Earth, muscle unloading leads to a disproportionate loss in muscle force and size with the loss in muscle force occurring at a faster rate. Although the exact mechanisms are unknown, a role for Ca2+ dysregulation has been suggested. The sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA) pump actively brings cytosolic Ca2+ into the SR, eliciting muscle relaxation and maintaining low intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i). SERCA dysfunction contributes to elevations in [Ca2+]i, leading to cellular damage, and may contribute to the muscle weakness and atrophy observed with spaceflight. Here, we investigated SERCA function, SERCA regulatory protein content, and reactive oxygen/nitrogen species (RONS) protein adduction in murine skeletal muscle after 35-37 days of spaceflight. In male and female soleus muscles, spaceflight led to drastic impairments in Ca2+ uptake despite significant increases in SERCA1a protein content. We attribute this impairment to an increase in RONS production and elevated total protein tyrosine (T) nitration and cysteine (S) nitrosylation. Contrarily, in the tibialis anterior (TA), we observed an enhancement in Ca2+ uptake, which we attribute to a shift towards a faster muscle fiber type (i.e., increased myosin heavy chain IIb and SERCA1a) without elevated total protein T-nitration and S-nitrosylation. Thus, spaceflight affects SERCA function differently between the soleus and TA.


    Jessica L Braun, Mia S Geromella, Sophie I Hamstra, Holt N Messner, Val A Fajardo. Characterizing SERCA Function in Murine Skeletal Muscles after 35-37 Days of Spaceflight. International journal of molecular sciences. 2021 Oct 29;22(21)

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    PMID: 34769190

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