Mechanisms of protein regulation in rat skeletal muscle during resistance exercise and training

Theodore Sing Wong, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The cellular mechanisms through which adult rat skeletal muscle protein is regulated during resistance exercise and training was investigated. A model of non-voluntary resistance exercise was described which involves the electrically-stimulated contraction of the lower leg muscles of anesthetized rats against a weighted pulley-bar. Muscle protein synthesis rates were measured by in vivo constant infusion of $\sp3$H-leucine following a single bout of resistance exercise. Specific messenger RNA levels were determined by dot-blot hybridization analysis using $\sp{32}$P-labelled DNA probes after a single bout and multiple bouts of phasic training. The effects of phasic training on increasing skeletal muscle mass was assessed. Between 12 and 36 hours following a single resistance exercise bout (24-192 contractions), total mixed and myofibril protein synthesis rates were significantly increase (32%-65%) after concentric (gastrocnemius m.) and eccentric (tibialis anterior m.) contractions. Eccentric contractions had greater effects on myofibril synthesis with more prolonged increases in synthesis rates. Lower numbers of eccentric than concentric contractions were required to increase synthesis. Cellular RNA was increased after exercise but the relative levels of skeletal $\alpha$-actin and cytochrome c mRNAs were unchanged. Since increases in synthesis rates exceeded increases in RNA, post-transcriptional mechanisms may be primarily responsible for increased protein synthesis after a resistance exercise bout. After 10-22 weeks of phasic eccentric resistance training, muscle enlargement (16%-30%) was produced in the tibialis anterior m. after all training paradigms examined. In contrast, gastrocnemius m. enlargement after phasic concentric training occurred after moderate (24/bout) but not after high (192/bout) repetition training. The absence of muscle growth in the gastrocnemius m. after high repetition training despite increased synthesis rates after the initial bout and RNA and possibly mRNA accumulation during training suggests a role for post-translational mechanisms (protein degradation) in the control of muscle growth in the gastrocnemius m. It is concluded that muscle protein during resistance exercise and training is regulated at several cellular levels. The particular response may be influenced by the exercise intensity and duration, the training frequency and the type of contractile work (eccentric vs. concentric) performed.

Subject Area

Anatomy & physiology|Animals

Recommended Citation

Wong, Theodore Sing, "Mechanisms of protein regulation in rat skeletal muscle during resistance exercise and training" (1990). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9111267.