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Role of TGF-β signaling in inherited and acquired myopathies

Role of TGF-β signaling in inherited and acquired myopathies The transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) superfamily consists of a variety of cytokines expressed in many different cell types including skeletal muscle. Members of this superfamily that are of particular importance in skeletal muscle are TGF-b1, mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and myostatin. These signaling molecules play important roles in skeletal muscle homeostasis and in a variety of inherited and acquired neuromuscular disorders. Expression of these molecules is linked to normal processes in skeletal muscle such as growth, differentiation, regeneration, and stress response. However, chronic elevation of TGF-b1, MAPKs, and myostatin is linked to various features of muscle pathology, including impaired regeneration and atrophy. In this review, we focus on the aberrant signaling of TGF-b in various disorders such as Marfan syndrome, muscular dystrophies, sarcopenia, and critical illness myopathy. We also discuss how the inhibition of several members of the TGF-b signaling pathway has been implicated in ameliorating disease phenotypes, opening up novel therapeutic avenues for a large group of neuromuscular disorders. Introduction bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs 1 to 20), growth and The transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) superfamily differentiation factors (GDFs), activins (A and B), inhibins plays a crucial role in normal physiology and pathogenesis (A and B), nodal, leftys (1 and 2), and Mullerian inhibiting in a number of tissues. It is important to emphasize that substance [1]. They are generally divided into two branches downstream effects of this signaling cascade are often tis- defined by the utilization of receptor Smads (R-Smads): the sue-specific, thereby dictating which target genes will be TGF-b branch, consisting of TGF-b,activin,Nodal,and activated in response to the transduction signal. Given its myostatin (GDF-8), signals through R-Smads 2 and 3 and multifaceted effects in different tissues, deregulation of the BMP branch, consisting of BMPs and other GDFs, sig- TGF-b signaling cascades can lead to a multitude of devel- nals through R-Smads 1, 5 and 8. This superfamily is opmental defects and/or disease [1]. Several members of known to be involved in embryonic development, adult tis- the TGF-b family have been shown to play important sue homeostasis, and disease pathogenesis. Specifically, it roles in regulating muscle growth and atrophy. The most has been shown to control proliferation, differentiation, extensively characterized ligands, in terms of the effects on apoptosis, migration, extracellular matrix (ECM) remodel- skeletal muscle, are TGF-b1, mitogen-activated protein ing, immune functions, and tumor invasion/metastasis [2]. kinases (MAPKs), and myostatin. In this review, we focus TGF-b1 is synthesized as a precursor that is cleaved on these signaling molecules in normal homeostasis and intracellularly into an inactive complex consisting of the pathological conditions affecting skeletal muscle and mature TGF-b1 non-covalently bound to the portion of describe the therapeutic avenues that have recently been the precursor peptide termed the latency-associated pep- explored to target the TGF-b signaling cascade. tide (LAP) [3]. This inactive TGF-b1-LAP complex forms a larger complex with latent transforming growth factor- Overview of the TGF-b superfamily signaling cascade binding proteins (LTBPs), which directly bind and release The TGF-b superfamily of cytokines consists of a variety of TGF-b1 from the ECM. Specifically, LTBP-4 sequesters signaling molecules including isoforms of TGF-b (1 to 3), and regulates the availability of TGF-b1 to bind with its receptor [4]. Cleavage of TGF-b1fromthe latent com- plex is achieved through the action of proteases such as * Correspondence: rcohn2@jhmi.edu McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University plasmin, thrombin, plasma transglutaminases, or endo- School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA glycosylases, or through the physical interaction of LAPs Full list of author information is available at the end of the article © 2011 Burks and Cohn; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 2 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 with other proteins [3]. Activation occurs extracellularly in the BMP pathway and competes with Smad4 for bind- [3], and once TGF-b1 is released, it is able to interact ing to Smad1 [5] (Figure 1). with and complex its type I (usually TbR-II) and type II TGF-b1 can also signal via induction of non-canonical (usually activin receptor-like kinase (ALK) 5) receptors. pathways including MAPK. The MAPK family consists of The constitutively active type II receptor phosphorylates isoforms of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) and activates the type I receptor, which in turn directly (1 and 2), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNKs) (1to 3), and p38 phosphorylates Smad2 and/or Smad3 (which are (a, b, g and δ). The mechanisms of MAPK activation by recruited by adaptor proteins) to initiate signal transduc- TGF-b1 and the subsequent biological consequences are cell-type-specific [6]. Generally in the non-Smad pathway, tion through the canonical cascades [5]. Once R-Smad has been phosphorylated, it forms a complex with the the type I receptor associates with the adaptor proteins, common mediator Smad (co-Smad), Smad4, which trans- Shc and tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor locates to the nucleus, where it directly binds defined ele- (TRAF) 6, for the activation of Ras and TGF-b-activated ments on the DNA [2]. Adding to the regulation are the kinase (TAK) 1 and subsequently, the ERK and p38/JNK inhibitory Smads 6 and 7. Smad7 is involved in both pathways, respectively [7]. However, MAPK may also branches and competes with R-Smads for interaction modulate TGF-b1-induced Smad signals and phosphory- with the type I receptor, whereas Smad6 only participates late Smad proteins independent of TGF-b1, providing TGF-β1 or Myostatin Extracellular II I Smad7 Ras TAK1 Smad2/3 Smad4 MKK4 MKK3/6 MEK1/2 JNK p38 ERK1/2 Smad2/3 Smad4 Transcription Smad2/3 Factors Smad4 Nucleus Figure 1 Crosstalk between the canonical and non-canonical transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-b1) and myostatin pathways. Once the TGF-b1 or myostatin ligands bind to the appropriate type I and type II receptors, cross-phosphorylation of the type I receptor occurs, leading to the phosphorylation of downstream effectors. In the canonical pathway, the type I receptor phosphorylates Smad2/3, which then binds to Smad4 and translocates into the nucleus to act as transcription factors. In the non-canonical pathway, the type I receptor phosphorylates proteins that are involved in the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). Activated MAPKs can then regulate transcription factors and/or the Smad proteins through direct interactions or via downstream proteins. Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 3 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 evidence for crosstalk between canonical and non-canoni- if expression is sustained [30]. Generally, in mature mus- cal TGF-b pathways [6,7] (Figure 1). cle, MAPKs mediate the transduction of diverse external Myostatin (MSTN), predominantly expressed in skele- stress stimuli into intracellular signals that regulate adap- tal muscle, also signals through the TGF-b branch [8]. It tive cellular responses such as proliferation, differentia- is synthesized as a precursor protein that undergoes pro- tion, self-renewal, and survival in diseased and healthy cessing by furin proteases to generate a propeptide. After states [2,31]. For example, MAPK levels are modulated proteolytic processing, however, the biologically active during exercise and aging as a stress response [31,32]. Myostatinisexpressedindevelopingskeletalmuscle MSTN remains bound non-covalently to the propeptide, throughout embryogenesis and has been shown to be a and in this complex, the propeptide maintains its inac- tive, latent state [9,10]. MSTN also seems to be regulated negative regulator of adult skeletal muscle mass by acting extracellularly by other binding proteins: follistatin [9,11], on different mechanisms [20]. Genetic studies in mice, follistatin-related gene (FLRG) protein [12], and growth cattle, sheep, dogs, chickens, and humans have all shown and differentiation factor-associated serum protein that myostatin normally functions to limit muscle mass (GASP) 1 [13]. When not bound to its propeptide or [33-40]. In mice, targeted ablation of the Mstn gene binding proteins, active MSTN is able to signal to target causes a doubling of skeletal muscle mass throughout the cells by binding to the activin type II receptors, ActRIIA body, as a result of a combination of muscle fiber hyper- or ActRIIB [14,15]. The activation of the type I receptor plasia and hypertrophy [33]. Moreover, postnatal inhibi- (usually ALK5 and to a lesser extent ALK4) leads to the tion of myostatin signaling through the delivery of phosphorylation of R-Smads 2 and 3 [15]. More recently, propeptides, neutralizing antibodies, antisense RNA, inhi- it has been shown that MSTN is also able to induce the bitory proteins, and soluble ActRIIB has been shown to activation of the MAPK signaling pathway in Smad- induce significant muscle growth when administered to dependent and -independent mechanisms [16-18], and to mice of different ages, demonstrating the importance of inhibit the Akt/TORC1/p70S6K signaling pathway [19] this signaling pathway in regulating muscle homeostasis (Figure 1). For a more extensive summary of MSTN, [10,14,41-50]. see [20]. TGF-b signaling and skeletal-muscle repair Physiological role of TGF-b signaling in skeletal muscle After skeletal muscle injury, a well-coordinated repair pro- TGF-b1 is expressed during myogenesis, and its spatial cess occurs. This process includes the release of growth and temporal expression in the developing connective tis- factors and cytokines and the migration and proliferation sue is correlated with the fiber-type composition of the of macrophages and fibroblasts that increase the produc- surrounding myotubes. Myotubes formed before the tion of ECM components; these components are degraded expression of TGF-b1 develop into slow fibers, whereas as normal regeneration occurs. The inflammatory fast fibers form when myoblasts are adjacent to connective response serves to clear myofiber debris and modulate tissue expressing TGF-b1 [21]. TGF-b1 has been shown to regeneration. The formation of new myofibers begins with inhibit the differentiation of fetal myoblasts but does not the activation of satellite cells, followed by proliferation, affect embryonic myoblasts [22]. In mature adult muscle, differentiation, and fusion of myocytes [51] (Figure 2). TGF-b negatively affects skeletal muscle regeneration by TGF-b1, a potent regulator of tissue wound healing inhibiting satellite cell proliferation, myofiber fusion, and and fibrosis, is physiologically upregulated in regenerat- expression of some muscle-specific genes [23]. Further- ing skeletal muscle after injury and exercise and is more, TGF-b1 induces the transformation of myogenic thought to participate in a transient inflammatory cells into fibrotic cells after injury [24]. response to muscle damage [51,52]. Persistent exposure Notmuchisknown aboutthe role of thedifferent to the inflammatory response leads to an altered ECM MAPKs in embryogenesis [25]; although, they have been and increased levels of growth factors and cytokines, shown to play a role in myogenesis and regeneration. p38 including TGF-b1, which contribute to the formation of is speculated to regulate regeneration through the activa- fibrotic tissue [51,52]. Therefore, TGF-b1isone of the tion of p21, a cyclin-dependent inhibitor that causes irre- major factors promoting the transformation of myo- versible withdrawal from the cell cycle (necessary for the blasts into fibrotic tissue after injury. Furthermore, differentiation of myoblasts) and through interactions increased levels of TGF-b1 inhibit satellite cell activation with Pax7, myogenic regulatory factors, and myocyte and impair myocyte differentiation [23,53] (Figure 2). enhancer factors [26,27]. JNK is proposed to inhibit myo- Interestingly, reducing the levels of TGF-b1invarious genesis [28], and ERK may have multiple roles: prevent- physiological and pathological conditions associated ing the initiation of myogenesis [29], enhancing myoblast with muscle homeostasis and regeneration has proven proliferation during the acute stages, and repressing mus- to be beneficial for several myopathic conditions [54-70] cle-specific gene expression and myoblast differentiation, (Table 1). Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 4 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 Injured Muscle Myofibers Myocytes Growth Macrophages Factors Fibroblasts Cytokines Fusion Satellite Cells Myoblasts Activation TGF-β1 Myostatin Persistant exposure Accumulation to inflammation Myofibroblasts Fibrotic Tissue Figure 2 Regulated and dysregulated muscle regeneration. In regulated muscle regeneration, a transient inflammatory response occurs upon injury, which includes the chemotaxis of growth factors, cytokines, macrophages, and fibroblasts. This is followed by the activation and proliferation of satellite cells. Once activated, myoblasts differentiate into myocytes, and then fuse together to form myofibers, which exhibit central nuclei. This process is primarily orchestrated by the expression of the myogenic regulatory factors. In dysregulated muscle regeneration, there is a persistent inflammatory response and overexpression of proteins such as transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-b1) and myostatin, which promote the formation of fibrotic tissue to replace damaged myofibers. Myostatin also impairs skeletal muscle regeneration. It on the disease model and mechanism of inhibition is proposed to hinder the chemotaxis of macrophages [43,44,48,50,78-100] (Table 2). and myoblasts [71], while simultaneously activating and attracting fibroblasts to the site of injury. Once fibro- Role of TGF-b signaling in disease pathogenesis of blasts are within the environment of the injured muscle, inherited myopathies they express MSTN and differentiate into myofibro- Dysregulation of TGF-b signaling has been implicated in blasts, a process that in turn accelerates the deposition various pathological conditions affecting skeletal muscle, of collagen and connective tissue, ultimately promoting both inherited and acquired [51]. Inherited conditions the formation of tissue fibrosis [72,73]. Furthermore, can be progressive, and therefore, there are unique phe- myostatin inhibits the activation, differentiation, and notypic characteristics that may require different modes self-renewal of satellite cells [71,74,75] and the expres- of intervention. Indeed, increased levels of TGF-b, sion of the muscle regulatory factors crucial for the MAPK, and/or MSTN have been associated with spinal regeneration and differentiation process of myofibers muscular atrophy and Kennedy disease [101,102], and [76,77] (Figure 2). Inhibiting MSTN in various myo- inhibition of MSTN improves familial amyotrophic lat- pathic conditions has yielded mixed results, depending eral sclerosis (ALS) [82,87], but this review focuses on Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 5 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 Table 1 Comprehensive overview of studies using agents to blunt transforming growth factor (TGF)-b signaling Compound Mechanism of action Clinical Model organism Phenotypic findings Ref condition FDA-approved medications a b 1C1039G/+ Losartan AT1 receptor antagonist (mostly MFS Fbn mice Improved muscle architecture, function and [54] used for hypertension, regeneration cardiomyopathies) DMD mdx mice Improved skeletal, diaphragmatic and cardiac muscle [54,55] architecture, function and regeneration Muscle Young mice Decreased fibrosis and improved regeneration [56] Injury Suramin TGF-b1 receptor antagonist (anti- DMD mdx mice Decreased fibrosis and prevented decrease in grip [57] parasitic, anti-neoplasic) strength Muscle Adult mice Decreased fibrosis, improved regeneration and function [58-60] injury Anti-fibrotic agents Decorin Binds to TGF-b1 ligands Muscle Young mice Decreased fibrosis, improved regeneration and [61] injury functional recovery DMD mdx mice Decreased collagen type I levels in diaphragm [62] g-Interferon Induces Smad7 expression Muscle Young mice Decreased fibrosis, improved regeneration and [63] injury functional recovery Pirfenidone TGF-b1 antagonist DMD mdx mice Improved cardiac function, minor alterations on the [64,65] development of fibrosis, and no improvement in diaphragmatic function Halofuginone Inhibits TGF-b-dependent DMD mdx mice Decreased fibrosis and improved function of the heart, [66,67] phosphorylation of Smad3 diaphragm and limb muscles d 2J 2J CMD dy /dy Decreased fibrosis and improved functional performance [68] but did not improve strength TGF-b neutralizing antibody 1C1039G/+ Neutralizes TGF-b (1 and/or 2) ligands MFS Fbn mice Prevented muscle atrophy and improved regeneration [54] DMD mdx mice Decreased fibrosis and improved regeneration [54,69] Sarcopenia Aged mice Failed to improve regeneration [70] TGF-b receptor kinase inhibitor Decoy receptor composed of extracellular Sarcopenia Aged mice Improved regeneration after direct intramuscular [70] portion of TGF-b receptor II injection Angiotensin II type 1 receptor. Marfan syndrome. Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Congenital muscular dystrophy. Age ≤ 3 months. Age 3-15 months. Age ≥ 15 months. altered signaling in the pathogenesis of Marfan syn- split fibers. Further molecular analyses revealed that an drome (MFS) and the muscular dystrophies. increase in TGF-b signaling was indeed responsible for MFS is an autosomal dominant systemic disorder of the abnormal muscle phenotype and the impaired ability connective tissue, caused by mutations in FBN1, the gene to regenerate muscle in response to injury. Interestingly, encoding the ECM protein, fibrillin-1 [103]. A large sub- when TGF-b signaling was blunted via treatment with a set of patients exhibit a significant decrease in muscle TGF-b neutralizing antibody or losartan, mice deficient mass, often associated with hypotonia, particularly during in fibrillin-1 exhibited normal muscle architecture and early childhood, and experience a life-long inability to regeneration capabilities [54]. increase muscle mass despite physical exercise. Histologi- ‘Muscular dystrophy’ (MD) is a term used to describe cal analyses of skeletal muscle from fibrillin-1-deficient a group of over 30 inherited disorders characterized by mice and patients with MFS demonstrated a decrease in variable progressive muscle weakness and wasting the number and size of myofibers, accompanied by an [104,105]. Genetic mutations in genes encoding proteins increase in fibrosis, fat deposition, and the number of spanning every subcellular aspect of the myofiber have Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 6 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 Table 2 Comprehensive overview of studies using post-natal inhibition of myostatin Disease Model Phenotypic findings Ref organism Neutralizing antibody: binds to active myostatin and prevents receptor binding DMD mdx mice Improved regeneration and function, induced hypertrophy, decreased degeneration (diaphragm) and [78,79] fibrosis b -/- LGMD2C sgcg mice Improved function, induced hypertrophy but no histopathological improvement [80] -/- LGMD2F sgcd mice Increased muscle mass, regeneration (young) and fibrosis (aged) [81] c G93A ALS SOD1 Delayed onset of muscle atrophy and functional decline without extending survival [82] mice and rats Sarcopenia Aged mice Prevented loss of body weight, muscle mass and function, and decline in physical activity, reduced [44,83] apoptosis, no change in fibrosis Disuse Adult mice Partially protected against but did not prevent atrophy [99] atrophy ActRIIB-Fc : soluble, decoy receptor binding active myostatin DMD mdx mice Increased body weight and function, induced hypertrophy [84,100] P104L LGMD1C CAV-3 mice Induced muscle hypertrophy [85] SMA SMAΔ7 mice Modestly increased muscle weight and strength, decreased survival [86] G93A ALS SOD1 mice Delayed onset of disease but did not extend survival, reduced weakness after onset [87] Cachexia Lewis-lung Protected against loss of body weight and muscle mass [88] carcinoma Cachexia Colon-26 Protected against or restored loss of body weight, muscle mass and grip strength, and increased survival [88,89] carcinoma MSTN Propeptide: binds to myostatin and prevents release of active form DMD mdx mice Induced hypertrophy, increased strength, improved histopathological features of limb and diaphragm, [48,50,90] decreased endurance, produced adverse effects on cardiomyopathy -/- LGMD2A Capn3 mice Increased muscle mass and force, no improvement in histopathological features [91] -/- LGMD2D sgca mice Insufficient delivery of vector resulted in no hypertrophy or any change in necrosis [91] Muscle Adult mice Increased muscle mass, improved regeneration, decreased fibrosis [92] Injury Follistatin: inhibitory protein that binds to myostatin SMA SMAΔ7 mice Improved muscle mass (during early stages of disease), motor function and extended survival [93] G93A ALS SOD1 mice Increased muscle mass (hyperplasia) and strength (not performance) but no survival extension [94] HDAC Inhibitors: induce expression of follistatin DMD mdx mice Induced hypertrophy, decreased fibrosis and necrosis, restored muscle architecture, increased strength and [95] performance -/- LGMD2D sgca mice Induced hypertrophy and reduced fibrosis [95] Cachexia Colon-26 Did not protect against loss of body weight, muscle mass or function [88,96] carcinoma Muscle Young mice Improved regeneration [97] injury MSTN peptide: dominant negative truncated myostatin peptide that binds ActRIIB Sarcopenia Aged mice Improved grip strength and enhanced inflammatory response after injury [98] Muscle Adult mice Improved regeneration, decrease in necrosis [98] injury Antisense RNA: binds myostatin messenger RNA and inactivates it Cachexia S-180 Increased muscle mass [43] ascitic tumor Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Activin type IIB receptor. Spinal muscular atrophy. Age≥ 15 months. Age 3-15 months. Age ≤ 3 months. Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 7 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 been described [105]. There are currently no unifying targeting the latent complex of TGF-b1opens up yet hypotheses integrating all forms of MDs, but various another therapeutic avenue for inhibiting this cytokine in lines of evidence suggest that repeated cycles of degen- various conditions affecting skeletal muscle. eration and regeneration may eventually impair the abil- ity of satellite cells to repopulate damaged muscle [104]. Acquired myopathies implicating aberrant TGF-b Once muscle regeneration declines, there is often an signaling in disease progression accumulation of inflammation and fibrosis, which results Alterations in the expression of the TGF-b signaling cas- in an abundance of growth factors and cytokines includ- cades have also been linked to acquired forms of myopa- ing TGF-b1, as stated above [51,62,106-108]. Similarly, thies. Muscle atrophy caused by hypoxia [126], the levels of decorin and biglycan, components of the microgravity exposure [127], starvation [128], acute daily ECM that interact with cytokines such as TGF-b1, as psychological stress [129], various models of disuse well as modulations of MAPK and myostatin signaling, [130-137], cancer [138,139], sporadic ALS [140], HIV are altered in various forms of muscular dystrophies [141], and glucocorticoid steroids [142] is associated with including congenital MD, Emery-Dreifuss MD (EDMD) increased activation of MAPK, TGF-b1, and/or MSTN. and Becker MD [109-115]. This review will elaborate on However, in this paper, we focus on sarcopenia and criti- findings in Duchenne and limb-girdle MDs. cal illness myopathy (CIM). Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked Sarcopenia refers to the physiological age-related loss of disorder characterized by a complete lack of dystrophin, skeletal muscle mass and function [143]. Several changes which renders the myofiber membrane unstable. Inflam- occur with age, including a decrease in myofiber size and mation is thought to precede the overexpression of TGF- number and diminished ability of satellite cells to activate b1 and actual muscle wasting [116,117]. Additionally, and proliferate in response to injury, leading to impaired other factors including ECM components, immune system muscle remodeling [144,145]. The molecular mechanisms components, osteopontin, and fibrinogen are increased underlying sarcopenia are largely unknown. However, and have been linked to fibrosis in patients and animal alterations in the canonical and non-canonical TGF-b sig- models of DMD [52,108-110,116,118-120]. Furthermore, naling pathways have been shown to play a role in the increased levels of the MAPKs ERK1/2, JNK1, and p38 pathogenesis of sarcopenia. Studies in elderly men have have also been suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis demonstrated an increase in MAPK at baseline, suggesting of the skeletal and cardiac muscle phenotype in animal that aging skeletal muscle is functioning under ‘stress-like’ models of DMD [121-123]. Insight into the different fac- conditions at rest [32]. However, a different study con- tors contributing to the fibrosis accompanying DMD has ducted in mice and humans found an age-related decrease led to various mechanisms to improve the phenotype in ERK signaling in skeletal muscle and satellite cells, sug- observed in cardiac and skeletal (diaphragm and limb) gesting a contribution to the impaired regeneration [146]. muscles (Table 1 and 2) [52,54,64,124,125]. Clearly, more in-depth studies are necessary to character- Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) describes a ize the role of MAPK signaling in aging. Additionally, group of disorders primarily affecting the shoulder and alterations in the canonical TGF-b pathway include an pelvic girdle muscles, which have both autosomal domi- increase in circulating TGF-b1 levels and pSmad3, which nant and recessive inheritance, and involve a variety of contributes to the enrichment of connective tissue within proteins including sarcoglycans, dysferlin, and caveolin the ECM, creating an environment that interferes with [105]. Studies in a Drosophila model of LGMD with g/δ- satellite cell activation and proliferation and subsequent sarcoglycan deficiency have shown that partial reduction remodeling [70,145]. Other studies have shown an upregu- of the Drosophila genes homologous to Smads 2/3, Smads lation of MSTN [147] and that inhibition of MSTN results 1/5/7, and Smad4 improved muscle function, as shown by in an increase in muscle mass, function, and regeneration increased climbing ability of the flies. Similarly, reducing in sarcopenic mice, suggesting an important role for this the levels of the homologue for Smads 2/3 and Smad4 protein in the process of age-related loss of muscle mass improved the heart tube phenotype [125]. Not only has [44,98] (Table 2). this research provided a novel animal model for studying CIM is characterized by generalized progressive muscle dystrophic disease processes, but the results also indicate weakness and atrophy, occurring in critically ill patients that targeting the R-Smads and co-Smad may be of thera- who are hospitalized in the intensive care unit [148,149]. peutic interest. Furthermore, genetic manipulation of There are several factors thought to contribute to the LTBP-4, a latent TGF-b binding protein discussed above, loss of muscle mass in CIM, including immobilization, affected the severity of a mouse model of sarcoglycan-defi- systemic inflammation, high dose steroids, and other tox- cient LGMD2C, providing evidence for an important ins [148]. The precise molecular mechanisms underlying genetic modifier of MD. An insertion in the LTBP4 gene CIM are unknown [148]; however, constitutively active reduced proteolysis and Smad signaling [4]. Thus, members of the canonical and non-canonical TGF-b Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 8 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 signaling pathways may contribute to the muscle pheno- In addition to altering TGF-b1 signaling, a number of type. In fact, atrophic fibers with apoptotic features compounds have been shown to inhibit myostatin signal- express TGF-b ligands and receptors, p38, and down- ing. Numerous studies breeding myostatin-null mice to stream effectors of pJNK [149]. It is therefore tempting several mouse models of inherited and acquired myopa- to speculate that TGF-b inhibition may slow or halt the thies have shown various beneficial and non-beneficial progression of CIM. effects [81,85,88,98,156-159]. Interestingly, several studies on myostatin-null mice alone have shown that despite an increase in muscle fiber size, there is no increase in specific Therapeutic inhibition of TGF-b signaling force, which is probably due to a disturbance in mitochon- Aberrant TGF-b signaling has an important role in inher- ited and acquired myopathies. Therefore, research has drial metabolism [160,161]. Furthermore, myostatin-null been aimed at identifying compounds that can attenuate mice have also been reported to have brittle tendons, the increased signaling of TGF-b1, MSTN, and/or MAPK which may contribute to the decrease in specific force levels in order to improve disease phenotypes. [162]. However, it is important to emphasize that these stu- Several compounds have been shown to reduce the dies were performed in mice with a complete lack of myos- levels of TGF-b1 in myopathies. These include FDA- tatin during the development of skeletal muscle. Thus, approved medications with other primary clinical uses, caution is needed when extrapolating the findings obtained anti-fibrotic agents, TGF-b neutralizing antibodies, and from myostatin-null mice to the various compounds TGF-b receptor blockers. Most yielded favorable results, targeting myostatin signaling postnatally. but there are some conditions in which blunting TGF-b There are several pharmacological compounds that signaling was not beneficial. Table 1 provides a compre- inhibit MSTN postnatally: MSTN propeptide, MSTN hensive overview of existing agents targeting TGF-b sig- peptide, inhibitory proteins (follistatin), MSTN neutraliz- naling in specific disease models. ing antibodies, histone deacetylase inhibitors, and soluble Losartan is a widely studied, FDA-approved drug com- ActRIIB. These techniques have been used in various dis- monly used in the treatment of hypertension. Its ability to ease models, and a detailed overview is presented in attenuate TGF-b signaling in chronic renal disease, cardio- Table 2. myopathies, and MFS [54,150,151] made it an appealing The soluble receptor, ActRIIB, is currently being used molecule in the treatment of myopathies associated with in multiple clinical trials and has been explored in var- increased TGF-b signaling. Long-term administration of ious animal models including a model of DMD. It is losartan to dystrophin-negative mdx mice attenuated important to note that targeting ActRIIB could lead to adverse side effects, because its expression is not limited TGF-b signaling, decreased skeletal muscle fibrosis, and improved muscle regeneration and in vitro and in vivo to skeletal muscle [84] and because other members of the function [54]. Furthermore, long-term administration of TGF-b superfamily besides myostatin bind to it [14]. losartan, in conjunction with exercise, in mdx mice Furthermore, myostatin can also signal through another improved the cardiac muscle function and decreased fibro- receptor, ActRIIA, but with lower affinity [15]. sis in the cardiac, diaphragm, and limb muscles but did Preclinical trials with soluble ActRIIB in mdx mice not improve limb muscle function [55]. Other mechan- have shown that short-term (3 months) intraperitoneal isms of TGF-b inhibition have also yielded favorable administration increasedskeletalmusclemassand in results in the treatment of DMD and other conditions vitro function and caused a decrease in creatine kinase (Table 1). levels [100]. Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated Furthermore, recent experimental evidence has identi- gene transfer of a soluble form of the extracellular fied novel therapeutic targets in the TGF-b pathway. domain of the ActRIIB to the liver provided similar Molecules involved upstream (LTBP-4) and downstream results after 3.5 months, but no changes to cardiac mus- (R-Smads and co-Smad) have been shown to modulate cle mass were seen [84]. However, long-term (11 months) disease severity [4,125]. It is important to emphasize that myostatin inhibition using a recombinant AAV to over- LTBP-4 is a specific target for TGF-b1 [4], whereas Smad express myostatin propeptide in mdx mice did not molecules incorporate a variety of different pathways, reduce the amount of fibrosis in the diaphragm, but which could potentially lead to a number of adverse caused cardiac hypertrophy and impaired function in a effects if they were therapeutically modified [125,152] dose-dependent manner [50]. These results indicate that (Figure 1). Moreover, osteopontin, an inflammatory regu- all modes of myostatin inhibition may not be beneficial. lator that also modulates TGF-b1, has recently been Similar to TGF-b1 and MSTN, perturbations of MAPK shown to be upregulated during muscle regeneration and signaling have been documented in several myopathies, in DMD [118,153-155]. Lack of osteopontin in mdx mice but not many studies exist examining the effects of inhibi- improved fibrotic tissue formation and muscle function, tion on disease progression. Some evidence suggest that a making osteopontin a potential therapeutic target [118]. reduction in JNK and ERK signaling might be beneficial in Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 9 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 4. 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Yang W, Chen Y, Zhang Y, Wang X, Yang N, Zhu D: Extracellular signal- Acknowledgements regulated kinase 1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway is This project was funded by the National Institute on Aging, Claude D. involved in myostatin-regulated differentiation repression. Cancer Res Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, parent grant P30AG021334 2006, 66:1320-1326. to RDC and supplemental grant P30AG021334-08S1 to TNB. RDC is also 17. Huang Z, Chen D, Zhang K, Yu B, Chen X, Meng J: Regulation of myostatin supported by the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award DP2 OD004515, by signaling by c-Jun N-terminal kinase in C2C12 cells. Cell Signal 2007, NIH 5K08NS055879 award, and MDA #101938. 19:2286-2295. 18. Philip B, Lu Z, Gao Y: Regulation of GDF-8 signaling by the p38 MAPK. Author details Cell Signal 2005, 17:365-375. McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University 19. 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Penna F, Costamagna D, Fanzani A, Bonelli G, Baccino FM, Costelli P: Muscle wasting and impaired myogenesis in tumor bearing mice are Submit your next manuscript to BioMed Central prevented by ERK inhibition. PLoS One 2010, 5:e13604. and take full advantage of: 164. Wu W, Shan J, Bonne G, Worman HJ, Muchir A: Pharmacological inhibition of c-Jun N-terminal kinase signaling prevents cardiomyopathy caused • Convenient online submission by mutation in LMNA gene. Biochim Biophys Acta 2010, 1802:632-638. 165. Muchir A, Shan J, Bonne G, Lehnart SE, Worman HJ: Inhibition of • Thorough peer review extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling to prevent • No space constraints or color figure charges cardiomyopathy caused by mutation in the gene encoding A-type • Immediate publication on acceptance lamins. Hum Mol Genet 2009, 18:241-247. 166. 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Role of TGF-β signaling in inherited and acquired myopathies

Skeletal Muscle , Volume 1 (1) – May 4, 2011

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Copyright © 2011 by Burks and Cohn; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
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Life Sciences; Cell Biology; Developmental Biology; Biochemistry, general; Systems Biology; Biotechnology
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10.1186/2044-5040-1-19
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21798096
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Abstract

The transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) superfamily consists of a variety of cytokines expressed in many different cell types including skeletal muscle. Members of this superfamily that are of particular importance in skeletal muscle are TGF-b1, mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and myostatin. These signaling molecules play important roles in skeletal muscle homeostasis and in a variety of inherited and acquired neuromuscular disorders. Expression of these molecules is linked to normal processes in skeletal muscle such as growth, differentiation, regeneration, and stress response. However, chronic elevation of TGF-b1, MAPKs, and myostatin is linked to various features of muscle pathology, including impaired regeneration and atrophy. In this review, we focus on the aberrant signaling of TGF-b in various disorders such as Marfan syndrome, muscular dystrophies, sarcopenia, and critical illness myopathy. We also discuss how the inhibition of several members of the TGF-b signaling pathway has been implicated in ameliorating disease phenotypes, opening up novel therapeutic avenues for a large group of neuromuscular disorders. Introduction bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs 1 to 20), growth and The transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) superfamily differentiation factors (GDFs), activins (A and B), inhibins plays a crucial role in normal physiology and pathogenesis (A and B), nodal, leftys (1 and 2), and Mullerian inhibiting in a number of tissues. It is important to emphasize that substance [1]. They are generally divided into two branches downstream effects of this signaling cascade are often tis- defined by the utilization of receptor Smads (R-Smads): the sue-specific, thereby dictating which target genes will be TGF-b branch, consisting of TGF-b,activin,Nodal,and activated in response to the transduction signal. Given its myostatin (GDF-8), signals through R-Smads 2 and 3 and multifaceted effects in different tissues, deregulation of the BMP branch, consisting of BMPs and other GDFs, sig- TGF-b signaling cascades can lead to a multitude of devel- nals through R-Smads 1, 5 and 8. This superfamily is opmental defects and/or disease [1]. Several members of known to be involved in embryonic development, adult tis- the TGF-b family have been shown to play important sue homeostasis, and disease pathogenesis. Specifically, it roles in regulating muscle growth and atrophy. The most has been shown to control proliferation, differentiation, extensively characterized ligands, in terms of the effects on apoptosis, migration, extracellular matrix (ECM) remodel- skeletal muscle, are TGF-b1, mitogen-activated protein ing, immune functions, and tumor invasion/metastasis [2]. kinases (MAPKs), and myostatin. In this review, we focus TGF-b1 is synthesized as a precursor that is cleaved on these signaling molecules in normal homeostasis and intracellularly into an inactive complex consisting of the pathological conditions affecting skeletal muscle and mature TGF-b1 non-covalently bound to the portion of describe the therapeutic avenues that have recently been the precursor peptide termed the latency-associated pep- explored to target the TGF-b signaling cascade. tide (LAP) [3]. This inactive TGF-b1-LAP complex forms a larger complex with latent transforming growth factor- Overview of the TGF-b superfamily signaling cascade binding proteins (LTBPs), which directly bind and release The TGF-b superfamily of cytokines consists of a variety of TGF-b1 from the ECM. Specifically, LTBP-4 sequesters signaling molecules including isoforms of TGF-b (1 to 3), and regulates the availability of TGF-b1 to bind with its receptor [4]. Cleavage of TGF-b1fromthe latent com- plex is achieved through the action of proteases such as * Correspondence: rcohn2@jhmi.edu McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University plasmin, thrombin, plasma transglutaminases, or endo- School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA glycosylases, or through the physical interaction of LAPs Full list of author information is available at the end of the article © 2011 Burks and Cohn; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 2 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 with other proteins [3]. Activation occurs extracellularly in the BMP pathway and competes with Smad4 for bind- [3], and once TGF-b1 is released, it is able to interact ing to Smad1 [5] (Figure 1). with and complex its type I (usually TbR-II) and type II TGF-b1 can also signal via induction of non-canonical (usually activin receptor-like kinase (ALK) 5) receptors. pathways including MAPK. The MAPK family consists of The constitutively active type II receptor phosphorylates isoforms of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) and activates the type I receptor, which in turn directly (1 and 2), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNKs) (1to 3), and p38 phosphorylates Smad2 and/or Smad3 (which are (a, b, g and δ). The mechanisms of MAPK activation by recruited by adaptor proteins) to initiate signal transduc- TGF-b1 and the subsequent biological consequences are cell-type-specific [6]. Generally in the non-Smad pathway, tion through the canonical cascades [5]. Once R-Smad has been phosphorylated, it forms a complex with the the type I receptor associates with the adaptor proteins, common mediator Smad (co-Smad), Smad4, which trans- Shc and tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor locates to the nucleus, where it directly binds defined ele- (TRAF) 6, for the activation of Ras and TGF-b-activated ments on the DNA [2]. Adding to the regulation are the kinase (TAK) 1 and subsequently, the ERK and p38/JNK inhibitory Smads 6 and 7. Smad7 is involved in both pathways, respectively [7]. However, MAPK may also branches and competes with R-Smads for interaction modulate TGF-b1-induced Smad signals and phosphory- with the type I receptor, whereas Smad6 only participates late Smad proteins independent of TGF-b1, providing TGF-β1 or Myostatin Extracellular II I Smad7 Ras TAK1 Smad2/3 Smad4 MKK4 MKK3/6 MEK1/2 JNK p38 ERK1/2 Smad2/3 Smad4 Transcription Smad2/3 Factors Smad4 Nucleus Figure 1 Crosstalk between the canonical and non-canonical transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-b1) and myostatin pathways. Once the TGF-b1 or myostatin ligands bind to the appropriate type I and type II receptors, cross-phosphorylation of the type I receptor occurs, leading to the phosphorylation of downstream effectors. In the canonical pathway, the type I receptor phosphorylates Smad2/3, which then binds to Smad4 and translocates into the nucleus to act as transcription factors. In the non-canonical pathway, the type I receptor phosphorylates proteins that are involved in the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). Activated MAPKs can then regulate transcription factors and/or the Smad proteins through direct interactions or via downstream proteins. Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 3 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 evidence for crosstalk between canonical and non-canoni- if expression is sustained [30]. Generally, in mature mus- cal TGF-b pathways [6,7] (Figure 1). cle, MAPKs mediate the transduction of diverse external Myostatin (MSTN), predominantly expressed in skele- stress stimuli into intracellular signals that regulate adap- tal muscle, also signals through the TGF-b branch [8]. It tive cellular responses such as proliferation, differentia- is synthesized as a precursor protein that undergoes pro- tion, self-renewal, and survival in diseased and healthy cessing by furin proteases to generate a propeptide. After states [2,31]. For example, MAPK levels are modulated proteolytic processing, however, the biologically active during exercise and aging as a stress response [31,32]. Myostatinisexpressedindevelopingskeletalmuscle MSTN remains bound non-covalently to the propeptide, throughout embryogenesis and has been shown to be a and in this complex, the propeptide maintains its inac- tive, latent state [9,10]. MSTN also seems to be regulated negative regulator of adult skeletal muscle mass by acting extracellularly by other binding proteins: follistatin [9,11], on different mechanisms [20]. Genetic studies in mice, follistatin-related gene (FLRG) protein [12], and growth cattle, sheep, dogs, chickens, and humans have all shown and differentiation factor-associated serum protein that myostatin normally functions to limit muscle mass (GASP) 1 [13]. When not bound to its propeptide or [33-40]. In mice, targeted ablation of the Mstn gene binding proteins, active MSTN is able to signal to target causes a doubling of skeletal muscle mass throughout the cells by binding to the activin type II receptors, ActRIIA body, as a result of a combination of muscle fiber hyper- or ActRIIB [14,15]. The activation of the type I receptor plasia and hypertrophy [33]. Moreover, postnatal inhibi- (usually ALK5 and to a lesser extent ALK4) leads to the tion of myostatin signaling through the delivery of phosphorylation of R-Smads 2 and 3 [15]. More recently, propeptides, neutralizing antibodies, antisense RNA, inhi- it has been shown that MSTN is also able to induce the bitory proteins, and soluble ActRIIB has been shown to activation of the MAPK signaling pathway in Smad- induce significant muscle growth when administered to dependent and -independent mechanisms [16-18], and to mice of different ages, demonstrating the importance of inhibit the Akt/TORC1/p70S6K signaling pathway [19] this signaling pathway in regulating muscle homeostasis (Figure 1). For a more extensive summary of MSTN, [10,14,41-50]. see [20]. TGF-b signaling and skeletal-muscle repair Physiological role of TGF-b signaling in skeletal muscle After skeletal muscle injury, a well-coordinated repair pro- TGF-b1 is expressed during myogenesis, and its spatial cess occurs. This process includes the release of growth and temporal expression in the developing connective tis- factors and cytokines and the migration and proliferation sue is correlated with the fiber-type composition of the of macrophages and fibroblasts that increase the produc- surrounding myotubes. Myotubes formed before the tion of ECM components; these components are degraded expression of TGF-b1 develop into slow fibers, whereas as normal regeneration occurs. The inflammatory fast fibers form when myoblasts are adjacent to connective response serves to clear myofiber debris and modulate tissue expressing TGF-b1 [21]. TGF-b1 has been shown to regeneration. The formation of new myofibers begins with inhibit the differentiation of fetal myoblasts but does not the activation of satellite cells, followed by proliferation, affect embryonic myoblasts [22]. In mature adult muscle, differentiation, and fusion of myocytes [51] (Figure 2). TGF-b negatively affects skeletal muscle regeneration by TGF-b1, a potent regulator of tissue wound healing inhibiting satellite cell proliferation, myofiber fusion, and and fibrosis, is physiologically upregulated in regenerat- expression of some muscle-specific genes [23]. Further- ing skeletal muscle after injury and exercise and is more, TGF-b1 induces the transformation of myogenic thought to participate in a transient inflammatory cells into fibrotic cells after injury [24]. response to muscle damage [51,52]. Persistent exposure Notmuchisknown aboutthe role of thedifferent to the inflammatory response leads to an altered ECM MAPKs in embryogenesis [25]; although, they have been and increased levels of growth factors and cytokines, shown to play a role in myogenesis and regeneration. p38 including TGF-b1, which contribute to the formation of is speculated to regulate regeneration through the activa- fibrotic tissue [51,52]. Therefore, TGF-b1isone of the tion of p21, a cyclin-dependent inhibitor that causes irre- major factors promoting the transformation of myo- versible withdrawal from the cell cycle (necessary for the blasts into fibrotic tissue after injury. Furthermore, differentiation of myoblasts) and through interactions increased levels of TGF-b1 inhibit satellite cell activation with Pax7, myogenic regulatory factors, and myocyte and impair myocyte differentiation [23,53] (Figure 2). enhancer factors [26,27]. JNK is proposed to inhibit myo- Interestingly, reducing the levels of TGF-b1invarious genesis [28], and ERK may have multiple roles: prevent- physiological and pathological conditions associated ing the initiation of myogenesis [29], enhancing myoblast with muscle homeostasis and regeneration has proven proliferation during the acute stages, and repressing mus- to be beneficial for several myopathic conditions [54-70] cle-specific gene expression and myoblast differentiation, (Table 1). Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 4 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 Injured Muscle Myofibers Myocytes Growth Macrophages Factors Fibroblasts Cytokines Fusion Satellite Cells Myoblasts Activation TGF-β1 Myostatin Persistant exposure Accumulation to inflammation Myofibroblasts Fibrotic Tissue Figure 2 Regulated and dysregulated muscle regeneration. In regulated muscle regeneration, a transient inflammatory response occurs upon injury, which includes the chemotaxis of growth factors, cytokines, macrophages, and fibroblasts. This is followed by the activation and proliferation of satellite cells. Once activated, myoblasts differentiate into myocytes, and then fuse together to form myofibers, which exhibit central nuclei. This process is primarily orchestrated by the expression of the myogenic regulatory factors. In dysregulated muscle regeneration, there is a persistent inflammatory response and overexpression of proteins such as transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-b1) and myostatin, which promote the formation of fibrotic tissue to replace damaged myofibers. Myostatin also impairs skeletal muscle regeneration. It on the disease model and mechanism of inhibition is proposed to hinder the chemotaxis of macrophages [43,44,48,50,78-100] (Table 2). and myoblasts [71], while simultaneously activating and attracting fibroblasts to the site of injury. Once fibro- Role of TGF-b signaling in disease pathogenesis of blasts are within the environment of the injured muscle, inherited myopathies they express MSTN and differentiate into myofibro- Dysregulation of TGF-b signaling has been implicated in blasts, a process that in turn accelerates the deposition various pathological conditions affecting skeletal muscle, of collagen and connective tissue, ultimately promoting both inherited and acquired [51]. Inherited conditions the formation of tissue fibrosis [72,73]. Furthermore, can be progressive, and therefore, there are unique phe- myostatin inhibits the activation, differentiation, and notypic characteristics that may require different modes self-renewal of satellite cells [71,74,75] and the expres- of intervention. Indeed, increased levels of TGF-b, sion of the muscle regulatory factors crucial for the MAPK, and/or MSTN have been associated with spinal regeneration and differentiation process of myofibers muscular atrophy and Kennedy disease [101,102], and [76,77] (Figure 2). Inhibiting MSTN in various myo- inhibition of MSTN improves familial amyotrophic lat- pathic conditions has yielded mixed results, depending eral sclerosis (ALS) [82,87], but this review focuses on Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 5 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 Table 1 Comprehensive overview of studies using agents to blunt transforming growth factor (TGF)-b signaling Compound Mechanism of action Clinical Model organism Phenotypic findings Ref condition FDA-approved medications a b 1C1039G/+ Losartan AT1 receptor antagonist (mostly MFS Fbn mice Improved muscle architecture, function and [54] used for hypertension, regeneration cardiomyopathies) DMD mdx mice Improved skeletal, diaphragmatic and cardiac muscle [54,55] architecture, function and regeneration Muscle Young mice Decreased fibrosis and improved regeneration [56] Injury Suramin TGF-b1 receptor antagonist (anti- DMD mdx mice Decreased fibrosis and prevented decrease in grip [57] parasitic, anti-neoplasic) strength Muscle Adult mice Decreased fibrosis, improved regeneration and function [58-60] injury Anti-fibrotic agents Decorin Binds to TGF-b1 ligands Muscle Young mice Decreased fibrosis, improved regeneration and [61] injury functional recovery DMD mdx mice Decreased collagen type I levels in diaphragm [62] g-Interferon Induces Smad7 expression Muscle Young mice Decreased fibrosis, improved regeneration and [63] injury functional recovery Pirfenidone TGF-b1 antagonist DMD mdx mice Improved cardiac function, minor alterations on the [64,65] development of fibrosis, and no improvement in diaphragmatic function Halofuginone Inhibits TGF-b-dependent DMD mdx mice Decreased fibrosis and improved function of the heart, [66,67] phosphorylation of Smad3 diaphragm and limb muscles d 2J 2J CMD dy /dy Decreased fibrosis and improved functional performance [68] but did not improve strength TGF-b neutralizing antibody 1C1039G/+ Neutralizes TGF-b (1 and/or 2) ligands MFS Fbn mice Prevented muscle atrophy and improved regeneration [54] DMD mdx mice Decreased fibrosis and improved regeneration [54,69] Sarcopenia Aged mice Failed to improve regeneration [70] TGF-b receptor kinase inhibitor Decoy receptor composed of extracellular Sarcopenia Aged mice Improved regeneration after direct intramuscular [70] portion of TGF-b receptor II injection Angiotensin II type 1 receptor. Marfan syndrome. Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Congenital muscular dystrophy. Age ≤ 3 months. Age 3-15 months. Age ≥ 15 months. altered signaling in the pathogenesis of Marfan syn- split fibers. Further molecular analyses revealed that an drome (MFS) and the muscular dystrophies. increase in TGF-b signaling was indeed responsible for MFS is an autosomal dominant systemic disorder of the abnormal muscle phenotype and the impaired ability connective tissue, caused by mutations in FBN1, the gene to regenerate muscle in response to injury. Interestingly, encoding the ECM protein, fibrillin-1 [103]. A large sub- when TGF-b signaling was blunted via treatment with a set of patients exhibit a significant decrease in muscle TGF-b neutralizing antibody or losartan, mice deficient mass, often associated with hypotonia, particularly during in fibrillin-1 exhibited normal muscle architecture and early childhood, and experience a life-long inability to regeneration capabilities [54]. increase muscle mass despite physical exercise. Histologi- ‘Muscular dystrophy’ (MD) is a term used to describe cal analyses of skeletal muscle from fibrillin-1-deficient a group of over 30 inherited disorders characterized by mice and patients with MFS demonstrated a decrease in variable progressive muscle weakness and wasting the number and size of myofibers, accompanied by an [104,105]. Genetic mutations in genes encoding proteins increase in fibrosis, fat deposition, and the number of spanning every subcellular aspect of the myofiber have Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 6 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 Table 2 Comprehensive overview of studies using post-natal inhibition of myostatin Disease Model Phenotypic findings Ref organism Neutralizing antibody: binds to active myostatin and prevents receptor binding DMD mdx mice Improved regeneration and function, induced hypertrophy, decreased degeneration (diaphragm) and [78,79] fibrosis b -/- LGMD2C sgcg mice Improved function, induced hypertrophy but no histopathological improvement [80] -/- LGMD2F sgcd mice Increased muscle mass, regeneration (young) and fibrosis (aged) [81] c G93A ALS SOD1 Delayed onset of muscle atrophy and functional decline without extending survival [82] mice and rats Sarcopenia Aged mice Prevented loss of body weight, muscle mass and function, and decline in physical activity, reduced [44,83] apoptosis, no change in fibrosis Disuse Adult mice Partially protected against but did not prevent atrophy [99] atrophy ActRIIB-Fc : soluble, decoy receptor binding active myostatin DMD mdx mice Increased body weight and function, induced hypertrophy [84,100] P104L LGMD1C CAV-3 mice Induced muscle hypertrophy [85] SMA SMAΔ7 mice Modestly increased muscle weight and strength, decreased survival [86] G93A ALS SOD1 mice Delayed onset of disease but did not extend survival, reduced weakness after onset [87] Cachexia Lewis-lung Protected against loss of body weight and muscle mass [88] carcinoma Cachexia Colon-26 Protected against or restored loss of body weight, muscle mass and grip strength, and increased survival [88,89] carcinoma MSTN Propeptide: binds to myostatin and prevents release of active form DMD mdx mice Induced hypertrophy, increased strength, improved histopathological features of limb and diaphragm, [48,50,90] decreased endurance, produced adverse effects on cardiomyopathy -/- LGMD2A Capn3 mice Increased muscle mass and force, no improvement in histopathological features [91] -/- LGMD2D sgca mice Insufficient delivery of vector resulted in no hypertrophy or any change in necrosis [91] Muscle Adult mice Increased muscle mass, improved regeneration, decreased fibrosis [92] Injury Follistatin: inhibitory protein that binds to myostatin SMA SMAΔ7 mice Improved muscle mass (during early stages of disease), motor function and extended survival [93] G93A ALS SOD1 mice Increased muscle mass (hyperplasia) and strength (not performance) but no survival extension [94] HDAC Inhibitors: induce expression of follistatin DMD mdx mice Induced hypertrophy, decreased fibrosis and necrosis, restored muscle architecture, increased strength and [95] performance -/- LGMD2D sgca mice Induced hypertrophy and reduced fibrosis [95] Cachexia Colon-26 Did not protect against loss of body weight, muscle mass or function [88,96] carcinoma Muscle Young mice Improved regeneration [97] injury MSTN peptide: dominant negative truncated myostatin peptide that binds ActRIIB Sarcopenia Aged mice Improved grip strength and enhanced inflammatory response after injury [98] Muscle Adult mice Improved regeneration, decrease in necrosis [98] injury Antisense RNA: binds myostatin messenger RNA and inactivates it Cachexia S-180 Increased muscle mass [43] ascitic tumor Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Activin type IIB receptor. Spinal muscular atrophy. Age≥ 15 months. Age 3-15 months. Age ≤ 3 months. Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 7 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 been described [105]. There are currently no unifying targeting the latent complex of TGF-b1opens up yet hypotheses integrating all forms of MDs, but various another therapeutic avenue for inhibiting this cytokine in lines of evidence suggest that repeated cycles of degen- various conditions affecting skeletal muscle. eration and regeneration may eventually impair the abil- ity of satellite cells to repopulate damaged muscle [104]. Acquired myopathies implicating aberrant TGF-b Once muscle regeneration declines, there is often an signaling in disease progression accumulation of inflammation and fibrosis, which results Alterations in the expression of the TGF-b signaling cas- in an abundance of growth factors and cytokines includ- cades have also been linked to acquired forms of myopa- ing TGF-b1, as stated above [51,62,106-108]. Similarly, thies. Muscle atrophy caused by hypoxia [126], the levels of decorin and biglycan, components of the microgravity exposure [127], starvation [128], acute daily ECM that interact with cytokines such as TGF-b1, as psychological stress [129], various models of disuse well as modulations of MAPK and myostatin signaling, [130-137], cancer [138,139], sporadic ALS [140], HIV are altered in various forms of muscular dystrophies [141], and glucocorticoid steroids [142] is associated with including congenital MD, Emery-Dreifuss MD (EDMD) increased activation of MAPK, TGF-b1, and/or MSTN. and Becker MD [109-115]. This review will elaborate on However, in this paper, we focus on sarcopenia and criti- findings in Duchenne and limb-girdle MDs. cal illness myopathy (CIM). Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked Sarcopenia refers to the physiological age-related loss of disorder characterized by a complete lack of dystrophin, skeletal muscle mass and function [143]. Several changes which renders the myofiber membrane unstable. Inflam- occur with age, including a decrease in myofiber size and mation is thought to precede the overexpression of TGF- number and diminished ability of satellite cells to activate b1 and actual muscle wasting [116,117]. Additionally, and proliferate in response to injury, leading to impaired other factors including ECM components, immune system muscle remodeling [144,145]. The molecular mechanisms components, osteopontin, and fibrinogen are increased underlying sarcopenia are largely unknown. However, and have been linked to fibrosis in patients and animal alterations in the canonical and non-canonical TGF-b sig- models of DMD [52,108-110,116,118-120]. Furthermore, naling pathways have been shown to play a role in the increased levels of the MAPKs ERK1/2, JNK1, and p38 pathogenesis of sarcopenia. Studies in elderly men have have also been suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis demonstrated an increase in MAPK at baseline, suggesting of the skeletal and cardiac muscle phenotype in animal that aging skeletal muscle is functioning under ‘stress-like’ models of DMD [121-123]. Insight into the different fac- conditions at rest [32]. However, a different study con- tors contributing to the fibrosis accompanying DMD has ducted in mice and humans found an age-related decrease led to various mechanisms to improve the phenotype in ERK signaling in skeletal muscle and satellite cells, sug- observed in cardiac and skeletal (diaphragm and limb) gesting a contribution to the impaired regeneration [146]. muscles (Table 1 and 2) [52,54,64,124,125]. Clearly, more in-depth studies are necessary to character- Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) describes a ize the role of MAPK signaling in aging. Additionally, group of disorders primarily affecting the shoulder and alterations in the canonical TGF-b pathway include an pelvic girdle muscles, which have both autosomal domi- increase in circulating TGF-b1 levels and pSmad3, which nant and recessive inheritance, and involve a variety of contributes to the enrichment of connective tissue within proteins including sarcoglycans, dysferlin, and caveolin the ECM, creating an environment that interferes with [105]. Studies in a Drosophila model of LGMD with g/δ- satellite cell activation and proliferation and subsequent sarcoglycan deficiency have shown that partial reduction remodeling [70,145]. Other studies have shown an upregu- of the Drosophila genes homologous to Smads 2/3, Smads lation of MSTN [147] and that inhibition of MSTN results 1/5/7, and Smad4 improved muscle function, as shown by in an increase in muscle mass, function, and regeneration increased climbing ability of the flies. Similarly, reducing in sarcopenic mice, suggesting an important role for this the levels of the homologue for Smads 2/3 and Smad4 protein in the process of age-related loss of muscle mass improved the heart tube phenotype [125]. Not only has [44,98] (Table 2). this research provided a novel animal model for studying CIM is characterized by generalized progressive muscle dystrophic disease processes, but the results also indicate weakness and atrophy, occurring in critically ill patients that targeting the R-Smads and co-Smad may be of thera- who are hospitalized in the intensive care unit [148,149]. peutic interest. Furthermore, genetic manipulation of There are several factors thought to contribute to the LTBP-4, a latent TGF-b binding protein discussed above, loss of muscle mass in CIM, including immobilization, affected the severity of a mouse model of sarcoglycan-defi- systemic inflammation, high dose steroids, and other tox- cient LGMD2C, providing evidence for an important ins [148]. The precise molecular mechanisms underlying genetic modifier of MD. An insertion in the LTBP4 gene CIM are unknown [148]; however, constitutively active reduced proteolysis and Smad signaling [4]. Thus, members of the canonical and non-canonical TGF-b Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 8 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 signaling pathways may contribute to the muscle pheno- In addition to altering TGF-b1 signaling, a number of type. In fact, atrophic fibers with apoptotic features compounds have been shown to inhibit myostatin signal- express TGF-b ligands and receptors, p38, and down- ing. Numerous studies breeding myostatin-null mice to stream effectors of pJNK [149]. It is therefore tempting several mouse models of inherited and acquired myopa- to speculate that TGF-b inhibition may slow or halt the thies have shown various beneficial and non-beneficial progression of CIM. effects [81,85,88,98,156-159]. Interestingly, several studies on myostatin-null mice alone have shown that despite an increase in muscle fiber size, there is no increase in specific Therapeutic inhibition of TGF-b signaling force, which is probably due to a disturbance in mitochon- Aberrant TGF-b signaling has an important role in inher- ited and acquired myopathies. Therefore, research has drial metabolism [160,161]. Furthermore, myostatin-null been aimed at identifying compounds that can attenuate mice have also been reported to have brittle tendons, the increased signaling of TGF-b1, MSTN, and/or MAPK which may contribute to the decrease in specific force levels in order to improve disease phenotypes. [162]. However, it is important to emphasize that these stu- Several compounds have been shown to reduce the dies were performed in mice with a complete lack of myos- levels of TGF-b1 in myopathies. These include FDA- tatin during the development of skeletal muscle. Thus, approved medications with other primary clinical uses, caution is needed when extrapolating the findings obtained anti-fibrotic agents, TGF-b neutralizing antibodies, and from myostatin-null mice to the various compounds TGF-b receptor blockers. Most yielded favorable results, targeting myostatin signaling postnatally. but there are some conditions in which blunting TGF-b There are several pharmacological compounds that signaling was not beneficial. Table 1 provides a compre- inhibit MSTN postnatally: MSTN propeptide, MSTN hensive overview of existing agents targeting TGF-b sig- peptide, inhibitory proteins (follistatin), MSTN neutraliz- naling in specific disease models. ing antibodies, histone deacetylase inhibitors, and soluble Losartan is a widely studied, FDA-approved drug com- ActRIIB. These techniques have been used in various dis- monly used in the treatment of hypertension. Its ability to ease models, and a detailed overview is presented in attenuate TGF-b signaling in chronic renal disease, cardio- Table 2. myopathies, and MFS [54,150,151] made it an appealing The soluble receptor, ActRIIB, is currently being used molecule in the treatment of myopathies associated with in multiple clinical trials and has been explored in var- increased TGF-b signaling. Long-term administration of ious animal models including a model of DMD. It is losartan to dystrophin-negative mdx mice attenuated important to note that targeting ActRIIB could lead to adverse side effects, because its expression is not limited TGF-b signaling, decreased skeletal muscle fibrosis, and improved muscle regeneration and in vitro and in vivo to skeletal muscle [84] and because other members of the function [54]. Furthermore, long-term administration of TGF-b superfamily besides myostatin bind to it [14]. losartan, in conjunction with exercise, in mdx mice Furthermore, myostatin can also signal through another improved the cardiac muscle function and decreased fibro- receptor, ActRIIA, but with lower affinity [15]. sis in the cardiac, diaphragm, and limb muscles but did Preclinical trials with soluble ActRIIB in mdx mice not improve limb muscle function [55]. Other mechan- have shown that short-term (3 months) intraperitoneal isms of TGF-b inhibition have also yielded favorable administration increasedskeletalmusclemassand in results in the treatment of DMD and other conditions vitro function and caused a decrease in creatine kinase (Table 1). levels [100]. Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated Furthermore, recent experimental evidence has identi- gene transfer of a soluble form of the extracellular fied novel therapeutic targets in the TGF-b pathway. domain of the ActRIIB to the liver provided similar Molecules involved upstream (LTBP-4) and downstream results after 3.5 months, but no changes to cardiac mus- (R-Smads and co-Smad) have been shown to modulate cle mass were seen [84]. However, long-term (11 months) disease severity [4,125]. It is important to emphasize that myostatin inhibition using a recombinant AAV to over- LTBP-4 is a specific target for TGF-b1 [4], whereas Smad express myostatin propeptide in mdx mice did not molecules incorporate a variety of different pathways, reduce the amount of fibrosis in the diaphragm, but which could potentially lead to a number of adverse caused cardiac hypertrophy and impaired function in a effects if they were therapeutically modified [125,152] dose-dependent manner [50]. These results indicate that (Figure 1). Moreover, osteopontin, an inflammatory regu- all modes of myostatin inhibition may not be beneficial. lator that also modulates TGF-b1, has recently been Similar to TGF-b1 and MSTN, perturbations of MAPK shown to be upregulated during muscle regeneration and signaling have been documented in several myopathies, in DMD [118,153-155]. Lack of osteopontin in mdx mice but not many studies exist examining the effects of inhibi- improved fibrotic tissue formation and muscle function, tion on disease progression. Some evidence suggest that a making osteopontin a potential therapeutic target [118]. reduction in JNK and ERK signaling might be beneficial in Burks and Cohn Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:19 Page 9 of 13 http://www.skeletalmusclejournal.com/content/1/1/19 4. 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Skeletal MuscleSpringer Journals

Published: May 4, 2011

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