UCHL1 regulates muscle fibers and mTORC1 activity in skeletal muscle

Hongbo Gao, Jessica Freeling, Penglong Wu, Ashley P. Liang, Xuejun Wang, Yifan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Aims: Skeletal muscle wasting is associated with many chronic diseases. Effective prevention and treatment of muscle wasting remain as a challenging task due to incomplete understanding of mechanisms by which muscle mass is maintained and regulated. This study investigated the functional role of Ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCHL1) in skeletal muscle. Main methods: Mice with skeletal muscle specific gene knockout of UCHL1 and C2C12 myoblast cells with UCHL1 knockdown were used. Muscle fiber types and size were measured using tissue or cell staining. The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2 activities were assessed with the phosphorylation of their downstream targets. Key findings: In mouse skeletal muscle, UCHL1 was primarily expressed in slow twitch muscle fibers. Mice with skeletal muscle specific knockout (skmKO) of UCHL1 exhibited enlarged muscle fiber sizes in slow twitch soleus but not fast twitch extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle. Meanwhile, UCHL1 skmKO enhanced mTORC1 activity and reduced mTORC2 activity in soleus but not in EDL. Consistently, in C2C12 cells, UCHL1 knockdown increased the myotube size, enhanced mTORC1 activity, and reduced mTORC2 activities as compared with control cells. UCHL1 knockdown did not change the major proteins of mTOR complex but decreased the protein turnover of PRAS40, an inhibitory factor of mTORC1. Significance: These data revealed a novel function of UCHL1 in regulation of mTORC1 activity and skeletal muscle growth in slow twitch skeletal muscle. Given the upregulation of UCHL1 in denervation and spinal muscle atrophy, our finding advances understanding of regulators that are involved in muscle wasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116699
JournalLife Sciences
StatePublished - Sep 15 2019


  • C2C12 cell
  • Mice
  • Skeletal muscle
  • UCHL1
  • mTOR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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