In decapod crustaceans, claw muscle undergoes atrophy in response to elevated ecdysteroids while thoracic muscle undergoes atrophy in response to unweighting. The signaling pathways that regulate muscle atrophy in crustaceans are largely unknown. Myostatin is a negative regulator of muscle growth in mammals, and a myostatin-like cDNA is preferentially expressed in muscle of the land crab, Gecarcinus lateralis (Gl-Mstn). Contrary to prediction, levels of Gl-Mstn mRNA decreased dramatically in both the claw closer and weighted thoracic muscles when molting was induced by either eyestalk ablation (ESA) or multiple limb autotomy (MLA). However, the effect of molt induction was greater in the claw muscle. By late premolt, Gl-Mstn mRNA in the claw muscle decreased 81% and 94% in ESA and MLA animals, respectively, and was negatively correlated with ecdysteroids. Gl-Mstn mRNA in thoracic muscle decreased 68% and 82% in ESA and MLA animals, respectively, but was only weakly correlated with ecdysteroid. Claw and thoracic muscles also differed to varying extents in the expression of ecdysteroid receptor (Gl-EcR and GlRXR), elongation factor-2 (Gl-EF-2), and calpain T (Gl-CalpJ) in response to molt induction, but levels of the four transcripts were not correlated with ecdysteroid. The downregulation of Gl-Mstn expression in premolt claw muscle coincided with 11- and 13-fold increases in protein synthesis in the myofibrillar and soluble protein fractions, respectively. Furthermore, the rate of the increase in the synthesis of soluble proteins was greater than that of myofibrillar proteins during early premolt (1.4:1, soluble:myofibrillar), but the two were equivalent during late premolt. By contrast, Gl-Mstn mRNA increased 3-fold and Gl-CalpT mRNA decreased 40% in unweighted thoracic muscle; there was little or no effect on Gl-EF-2, Gl-EcR, and Gl-RXR mRNA levels. These data indicate that Gl-Mstn expression is negatively regulated by both ecdysteroids and load-bearing contractile activity. The downregulation of GlMstn in claw muscle may induce the elevated protein turnover associated with remodeling of the contractile apparatus during molt-induced atrophy. The upregulation of Gl-Mstn in unweighted thoracic muscle suggests that this factor is also involved in disuse atrophy when hemolymph ecdysteroid levels are low.
- Myostatin, muscle atrophy, protein synthesis, translation, myofibrillar protein, soluble protein, calpain, ecdysone receptor, retinoid x receptor, elongation factor 2, molting, unweighting, autotomy, eyestalk ablation, limb regeneration