Research of the Month

April 2018

Metabolic Maturation during Muscle Stem Cell Differentiation Is Achieved by miR-1/133a-Mediated Inhibition of the Dlk1-Dio3 Mega Gene Cluster

Wüst S, Dröse S, Heidler J, Wittig I, Klockner I, Franko A, Bonke E, Günther S, Gärtner U, Boettger T, Braun T

Muscle stem cells undergo a dramatic metabolic switch to oxidative phosphorylation during differentiation, which is achieved by massively increased mitochondrial activity. Since expression of the heart- and skeletal muscle-specific miR-1/133a gene cluster correlates with increased mitochondrial activity during muscle stem cell (MuSC) differentiation, we examined the potential role of miR-1/133a in metabolic maturation of skeletal muscles in mice. We found that miR-1/133a downregulate Mef2A in differentiated myocytes, thereby suppressing the Dlk1-Dio3 gene cluster, which encodes multiple microRNAs inhibiting expression of mitochondrial genes. Loss of miR-1/133a in skeletal muscles or increased Mef2A expression causes continuous high-level expression of the Dlk1-Dio3 gene cluster, compromising mitochondrial function due to reduced efficiency of the complex I of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Failure to terminate the stem cell-like metabolic program characterized by high-level Dlk1-Dio3 gene cluster expression initiates profound changes in muscle physiology, essentially abrogating endurance running. Our results suggest a major role of miR-1/133a in metabolic maturation of skeletal muscles but exclude major functions in muscle development and MuSC maintenance.

Research of the Month in Archiv