The levels of c-fos and c-jun mRNA were measured by reverse transcription PCR in the rabbit latissimus dorsi muscle following three separate training regimes, i.e. passive stretch, 10 Hz electrical stimulation or a combination of the two. Both c-fos and c-jun mRNA expression peaked at around 1 h after imposing stretch and at around 4.5-6 h after the initiation of electrical stimulation. The combined stretch/electrical stimulation regime induced biphasic expression of both c-fos and c-jun mRNA, with peaks coinciding temporally with those for the individual regimes. Immunostaining with anti-Fos and anti-Jun antibodies revealed the accumulation of these proteins in both myofibre and interstitial cell nuclei following passive stretch. In contrast, following electrical stimulation the localization of immunoreactive c-Fos and c-Jun proteins was predominantly in interstitial cell nuclei. c-Fos and c-Jun immunoreactivity was also clearly colocalized in a proportion of myonuclei from stretched muscle. These findings suggest that the rapid induction of c-fos and c-jun is an early event in response to mechanical stretch and might trigger [via activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcriptional factors] events leading to muscle fibre hypertrophy. However, the involvement of AP-1 in inducing the phenotypic changes in muscle fibres as a result of electrical stimulation appears less clear.

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