Muscle development in childhood and muscle regeneration in adults are dynamic processes that are necessary for reaching and maintaining optimal muscle mass and strength throughout life. Muscle repair after injury relies on stem cells (termed satellite cells), which when activated undergo sequential proliferation, differentiation, and fusion with existing myofibers. Satellite cell activity is controlled by complex signals mediated by cell-cell contact, by growth factors, and by hormones, which interact with genetic programs regulated by myogenic transcription factors. The physiologically critical loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs in aging and with chronic disease, termed sarcopenia, affects over 25% of elderly individuals, and accounts for medical costs in the billions. Therapy for sarcopenia is inadequate, primarily because mechanisms responsible for limiting muscle loss have not been elucidated. Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) play key roles in muscle development and help coordinate muscle repair after injury. IGF actions can counteract inhibitory effects of other signaling molecules on muscle differentiation, and thus represent potentially powerful anabolic agents to reduce or reverse sarcopenia. This project will focus on mechanisms that stimulate muscle differentiation and repair through interactions with pathways regulated by the IGFs, with the goal of using this knowledge to promote long-term enhancement of muscle for therapeutic benefit. The following Specific Aims are proposed to develop these ideas: 1. To define interactions between the IGF-activated PI3-kinase - Akt signaling pathway and p38- regulated pathways. Goals are to delineate biochemical mechanisms that mediate potential cross talk and also define unique functions of each of these networks to promote muscle differentiation. 2. To elucidate mechanisms controlling Igf2 gene transcription during muscle differentiation. Goals are to determine if a putative muscle enhancer mapping >100 kb 3'to the Igf2 gene mediates Igf2 transcriptional activity during muscle differentiation in vitro, and during muscle growth and repair in vivo, and integrates signals from different environmental and genetic programs to regulate the first step in an IGF2-driven autocrine - paracrine muscle differentiation and growth pathway. Proposed studies have the potential to identify new treatment strategies for sarcopenia by establishing mechanisms to facilitate and coordinate activities of critical signal transduction networks that enhance muscle differentiation and stimulate myofiber formation.

Public Health Relevance

A major impediment in developing effective treatments for sarcopenia is lack of knowledge about fundamental relationships between critical signal transduction networks activated by hormones and growth factors, and intrinsic muscle regulatory programs controlled by myogenic transcription factors. As IGF actions play key roles in muscle regeneration following injury, and in sustaining muscle mass during aging and in disease, dissecting the biochemical mechanisms by which IGF-activated signaling pathways interact with myogenic regulatory proteins has potential therapeutic implications. Thus, understanding IGF actions in muscle should yield new insights that will define ways to facilitate muscle regeneration and reverse sarcopenia through selective manipulation of distinct signaling cascades.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology Study Section (MCE)
Program Officer
Sato, Sheryl M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Oregon Health and Science University
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Rotwein, Peter (2018) The insulin-like growth factor 2 gene and locus in nonmammalian vertebrates: Organizational simplicity with duplication but limited divergence in fish. J Biol Chem 293:15912-15932
Rotwein, Peter (2018) The complex genetics of human insulin-like growth factor 2 are not reflected in public databases. J Biol Chem 293:4324-4333
Rotwein, Peter (2017) Large-scale analysis of variation in the insulin-like growth factor family in humans reveals rare disease links and common polymorphisms. J Biol Chem 292:9252-9261
Gross, Sean M; Rotwein, Peter (2016) Mapping growth-factor-modulated Akt signaling dynamics. J Cell Sci 129:2052-63
Gross, Sean M; Rotwein, Peter (2016) Unraveling Growth Factor Signaling and Cell Cycle Progression in Individual Fibroblasts. J Biol Chem 291:14628-38
Alzhanov, Damir; Rotwein, Peter (2016) Characterizing a distal muscle enhancer in the mouse Igf2 locus. Physiol Genomics 48:167-72
Gardner, Samantha; Gross, Sean M; David, Larry L et al. (2015) Separating myoblast differentiation from muscle cell fusion using IGF-I and the p38 MAP kinase inhibitor SB202190. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 309:C491-500
Rotwein, Peter S (2015) Editorial: is it time for an evolutionarily based human endocrinology? Mol Endocrinol 29:487-9
Gross, Sean M; Rotwein, Peter (2015) Akt signaling dynamics in individual cells. J Cell Sci 128:2509-19
Rotwein, Peter (2014) Editorial: the fall of mechanogrowth factor? Mol Endocrinol 28:155-6

Showing the most recent 10 out of 63 publications