UCHL1 regulates oxidative activity in skeletal muscle

Hongbo Gao, Ryan Antony, Rekha Srinivasan, Penglong Wu, Xuejun Wang, Yifan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Ubiquitin C-terminal Hydrolase L1 (UCHL1) is a deubiquitinating enzyme that was originally identified in neurons. Our recent study showed that UCHL1 was expressed in C2C12 myoblast cells and mouse skeletal muscle. Here we report that in mouse skeletal muscle, UCHL1 is primarily expressed in oxidative muscle fibers. Skeletal muscle specific gene knockout (smKO) of UCHL1 in mice reduced oxidative activity in skeletal muscle measured by SDH staining. The in situ muscle contraction test revealed that gastrocnemius muscle from UCHL1 smKO mice was more prone to fatigue in response to the repetitive stimulation. This data suggests that UCHL1 plays a role in maintenance of muscle oxidative metabolism. Moreover, UCHL1 smKO caused a significant reduction in key proteins that are involved in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in soleus muscles, suggesting that UCHL1 may be involved in regulation of mitochondrial content and function. Immunostaining showed the co-localization of UCHL1 and mitochondrial marker VDAC in skeletal muscle. Mitochondrial fractionation assay revealed that, although UCHL1 was primarily present in the cytosolic fraction, a low level of UCHL1 protein was present in mitochondrial fraction. The level of phosphorylation of AMPKα, a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, were unchanged in UCHL1 smKO muscle. On the other hand, immunoprecipitation from soleus muscle sample indicated the interaction between UCHL1 and HSP60, a chaperon protein that is involved in mitochondrial protein transport. There was a trend of downregulation of HSP60 in UCHL1 smKO muscle. Overall, our data suggests UCHL1 is a novel regulator of mitochondrial function and oxidative activity in skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0241716
JournalPloS one
Issue number11 11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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