Functional redundancy of type I and type II receptors in the regulation of skeletal muscle growth by myostatin and activin A.

Se-Jin Lee, The Jackson Laboratory
Adam Lehar, The Jackson Laboratory
Yewei Liu, The Jackson Laboratory
Chi Hai Ly
Quynh-Mai Pham, The Jackson Laboratory
Michael Michaud, The Jackson Laboratory
Renata Rydzik
Daniel W Youngstrom
Michael M Shen
Vesa Kaartinen
Emily L Germain-Lee
Thomas A Rando

This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0


Myostatin (MSTN) is a transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family member that normally acts to limit muscle growth. The function of MSTN is partially redundant with that of another TGF-β family member, activin A. MSTN and activin A are capable of signaling through a complex of type II and type I receptors. Here, we investigated the roles of two type II receptors (ACVR2 and ACVR2B) and two type I receptors (ALK4 and ALK5) in the regulation of muscle mass by these ligands by genetically targeting these receptors either alone or in combination specifically in myofibers in mice. We show that targeting signaling in myofibers is sufficient to cause significant increases in muscle mass, showing that myofibers are the direct target for signaling by these ligands in the regulation of muscle growth. Moreover, we show that there is functional redundancy between the two type II receptors as well as between the two type I receptors and that all four type II/type I receptor combinations are utilized in vivo. Targeting signaling specifically in myofibers also led to reductions in overall body fat content and improved glucose metabolism in mice fed either regular chow or a high-fat diet, demonstrating that these metabolic effects are the result of enhanced muscling. We observed no effect, however, on either bone density or muscle regeneration in mice in which signaling was targeted in myofibers. The latter finding implies that MSTN likely signals to other cells, such as satellite cells, in addition to myofibers to regulate muscle homeostasis.