Sepsis upregulates the gene expression of multiple ubiquitin ligases in skeletal muscle

Curtis J. Wray, Joshua M.V. Mammen, Dan D. Hershko, Per Olof Hasselgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Muscle wasting during sepsis reflects increased expression and activity of the ubiquitin-proteasome proteolytic pathway and is at least in part mediated by glucocorticoids. The ubiquitination of proteins destined to be degraded by the proteasome is regulated by multiple enzymes, including ubiquitin ligases. We tested the hypothesis that sepsis upregulates the gene expression of the newly described ubiquitin ligases, MuRF1 and atrogin-1/MAFbx. Sepsis was induced in rats by cecal ligation and puncture. Control rats were sham-operated. In some experiments, rats were treated with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU 38486 before induction of sepsis. At various time points after induction of sepsis, mRNA levels for MuRF1 and atrogin-1/MAFbx were determined in extensor digitorum longus muscles by real-time PCR. Sepsis resulted in a 10-16-fold increase in gene expression of the ubiquitin ligases studied here. These changes were much greater than those observed previously for another ubiquitin ligase, E3α, in muscle during sepsis. Treatment of rats with RU 38486 prevented the sepsis-induced increase in mRNA levels for MuRF1 and atrogin-1/MAFbx, suggesting that glucocorticoids participate in the upregulation of these genes in muscle during sepsis. The present results lend further support to the concept that the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway plays an important role in sepsis-induced muscle proteolysis and suggest that multiple ubiquitin ligases may participate in the development of muscle wasting during sepsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-705
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cachexia
  • Catabolism
  • Muscle wasting
  • Proteasome
  • Sepsis
  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitin ligase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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