Upon fasting, the ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic system is activated in skeletal muscle in parallel with the increases in rates of proteolysis. Levels of mRNA encoding the 14 kDa ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (E214k), which can catalyse the first irreversible reaction in this pathway, rise and fall in parallel with the rates of proteolysis [Wing and Banville (1994) Am. J. Physiol. 267, E39-E48], indicating that the conjugation of ubiquitin to proteins is a regulated step. To characterize the mechanisms of this regulation, we have examined the effects of insulin, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and des(1–3) insulin-like growth factor I (DES-IGF-I), which does not bind IGF-binding proteins, on E214k mRNA levels in L6 myotubes. Insulin suppressed levels of E214k mRNA with an IC50 of 4×10-9 M, but had no effects on mRNAs encoding polyubiquitin and proteasome subunits C2 and C8, which, like E214k, also increase in skeletal muscle upon fasting. Reduction of E214k mRNA levels was more sensitive to IGF-I with an IC50 of approx. 5×10-10 M. During the incubation of these cells for 12 h there was significant secretion of IGF-I-binding proteins into the medium. DES-IGF-I, which has markedly reduced affinity for these binding proteins, was found to potently reduce E214k mRNA levels with an IC50 of 3×10-11 M. DES-IGF-I did not alter rates of transcription of the E214k gene, but enhanced the rate of degradation of the 1.2 kb mRNA transcript. The half-life of the 1.2 kb transcript was approximately one-third that of the 1.8 kb transcript and can explain the more marked regulation of this transcript observed previously. This indicates that the additional 3´ non-coding sequence in the 1.8 kb transcript confers stability. These observations suggest that IGF-I is an important regulator of E214k expression and demonstrate, for the first time, stimulation of degradation of a specific mRNA transcript by this hormone, while overall RNA accumulates.

This content is only available as a PDF.