Identification and small molecule inhibition of an activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4)-dependent pathway to age-related skeletal muscle weakness and atrophy

Scott M. Ebert, Michael C. Dyle, Steven A. Bullard, Jason M. Dierdorff, Daryl J. Murry, Daniel K. Fox, Kale S. Bongers, Vitor A. Lira, David K. Meyerholz, John J. Talley, Christopher M. Adams

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40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aging reduces skeletal muscle mass and strength, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we used mouse modelstoinvestigate molecular mechanismsofage-related skeletal muscle weakness and atrophy as well as new potential interventions for these conditions. We identified two small molecules that significantly reduce age-related deficits in skeletal muscle strength, quality, and mass: ursolic acid (a pentacyclic triterpenoid found in apples) and tomatidine (a steroidal alkaloid derived from green tomatoes). Because small molecule inhibitors can sometimes provide mechanistic insight into disease processes, we used ursolic acid and tomatidine to investigate the pathogenesis of age-related muscle weakness and atrophy. We found that ursolic acid and tomatidine generate hundredsofsmall positive and negative changes in mRNA levels in aged skeletal muscle, and the mRNA expression signatures of the two compounds are remarkably similar. Interestingly, a subset of the mRNAs repressed by ursolic acid and tomatidine in aged muscle are positively regulated by activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4). Based on this finding, we investigated ATF4 as a potential mediator of age-related muscle weakness and atrophy. We found that a targeted reduction in skeletal muscle ATF4 expression reduces age-related deficits in skeletal muscle strength, quality, and mass, similar to ursolic acid and tomatidine. These results elucidate ATF4 as a critical mediator of age-related muscle weakness and atrophy. In addition, these results identify ursolic acid and tomatidine as potential agents and/or lead compounds for reducing ATF4 activity, weakness, and atrophy in aged skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25497-25511
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume290
Issue number42
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 16 2015

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Ebert, S. M., Dyle, M. C., Bullard, S. A., Dierdorff, J. M., Murry, D. J., Fox, D. K., Bongers, K. S., Lira, V. A., Meyerholz, D. K., Talley, J. J., & Adams, C. M. (2015). Identification and small molecule inhibition of an activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4)-dependent pathway to age-related skeletal muscle weakness and atrophy. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 290(42), 25497-25511. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M115.681445