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Turnover of muscle protein in the fowl. Changes in rates of protein synthesis and breakdown during hypertrophy of the anterior and posterior latissimus dorsi muscles.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


Measurements were made of the growth and of the changes in rates of protein turnover in the anterior latissimus dorsi muscle of the adult fowl in response to the attachment of a weight to one wing. Over 58 days there was a 140% increase in the protein content with similar increases in the RNA and DNA contents. The fractional rate of protein synthesis, measured by the continuous-infusion technique using [14C]proline, increased markedly during hypertrophy. This increase was mediated initially (after 1 day) by an increase in the RNA activity but at all other times reflected the higher RNA content. The rate of protein degradation, calculated from the difference between the synthesis and growth rates, appeared to increase and remain elevated for at least 4 weeks. At no time was there any suggestion of a fall in the rate of degradation. The following events are discussed as central to the changes that occur during skeletal-muscle hypertrophy. 1. Nuclear proliferation is necessary to maintain the characteristic synthesis rate because of the inability of existing nuclei to 'manage' increased protein synthesis for more than a limited period. 2. The increased protein breakdown during hypertrophy is consistent with the known over-production of a new muscle fibres and may indicate some 'wastage' during the growth. Such wastage may also be associated with myofibrillar proliferation. 3. Muscle stretch must be recognized as the major activator of growth and as such can be compared with the 'pleiotypic activators' that have been described for cells in culture.

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