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A novel puromycin decorporation method to quantify skeletal muscle protein breakdown: a proof-of-concept study

Crossland, Hannah; Smith, Kenneth; Atherton, Philip J.; Wilkinson, Daniel J.

A novel puromycin decorporation method to quantify skeletal muscle protein breakdown: a proof-of-concept study Thumbnail


Professor of Metabolic Mass Spectrometry

Professor of Clinical, metabolic & Molecular Physiology


The precise roles that the major proteolytic pathways play in the regulation of skeletal muscle mass remain incompletely understood, in part due to technical limitations associated with current techniques used to quantify muscle protein breakdown (MPB). We aimed to develop a method to assess MPB in cells, based on loss of puromycin labelling of translated polypeptide chains. Following an initial 24 h incubation period with puromycin (1 μM), loss of puromycin labelling from murine C2C12 myotubes was assessed over 48 h, both in the presence or absence of protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide (CHX). To validate the method, loss of puromycin labelling was determined from cells treated with selected compounds known to influence MPB (e.g. serum starvation, Dexamethasone (Dex), tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and MG-132)). Reported established (static) markers of MPB were measured following each treatment. Loss of puromycin labelling from cells pre-incubated with puromycin was evident over a 48 h period, both with and without CHX. Treatment with Dex (−14 ± 2% vs. Ctl; P < 0.01), TNF-α (−20 ± 4% vs. Ctl; P < 0.001) and serum starvation (−14 ± 4% vs. Ctl; P < 0.01) caused a greater loss of puromycin labelling than untreated controls, while the proteasome inhibitor MG-132 caused a relatively lower loss of puromycin labelling (+15 ± 8% vs. Ctl; P < 0.05). Thus, we have developed a novel decorporation method for measuring global changes in MPB, validated in vitro using an established muscle cell line. It is anticipated this non isotopic-tracer alternative to measuring MPB will facilitate insight into the mechanisms that regulate muscle mass/MPB both in vitro, and perhaps, in vivo.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 16, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 17, 2017
Publication Date Dec 16, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 25, 2017
Journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Print ISSN 0006-291X
Electronic ISSN 1090-2104
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 494
Issue 3-4
Keywords Skeletal muscle; Protein breakdown; Puromycin
Public URL
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