The effects of denervation on muscle weight, rates of protein synthesis and breakdown, and RNA concentraitons were studied in the soleus and extensor digitorum longus muscle. Althrough the soleus underwent a true atrophy after section of the sciatic nerve, the extensor digitorum longus continued to grow, albeit at a lower rate than innervated controls. At 24h after nerve section protein breakdown was increased in both muscle types when compared with internal controls, and remained so throughout the 10 days studied. The possibility that this increased catabolism might arise from conformational changes of proteins after denervation was not substantiated, as myofibrillar or soluble proteins of denervated and control tissues were equally susceptible to degradation in vitro by three proteinases. Tyrosine uptake into the denervated extensor digitorum longus was decreased throughout the 10 days studied, whereas two phases of increased transport of the amino acid were found in the soleus. Significant decreases in rates of protein synthesis were found 1 and 2 days after denervation and results are presented that suggest that these changes may result from a decrease in ribosomal involvement in the translation process. These initial decreases were not maintained and the rate of protein synthesis was in fact increased when compared with controls, at 7 and 10 days. The increased synthetic rates of the 7-day denervated tissues were reflected as proportional increases in both myofibrillar and soluble proteins. It is suggested that the increase in synthesis at this time may result from an increase in both the abailability and active involvement of ribosomes, and that these anabolic trends may be caused by spontaneous fibrillation and/or the amount of passive stretching of the denervated muscles.

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