MiR-125b-5p targeting TRAF6 relieves skeletal muscle atrophy induced by fasting or denervation

Jiaying Qiu, Jianwei Zhu, Ru Zhang, Wenpeng Liang, Wenjing Ma, Qiuyu Zhang, Ziwei Huang, Fei Ding, Hualin Sun


Background: Skeletal muscle atrophy, characterized by accelerated protein degradation, occurs in such conditions as unloading, immobilization, fasting, and denervation. Effective treatments for skeletal muscle atrophy are not yet available. Considering that microRNAs (miRs) may play an important role in the regulation of muscle atrophy, in the present study, we aimed to examine the effect of miR-125b-5p-based therapeutic strategies on skeletal muscle atrophy, and to explore the underlying mechanisms.
Methods: Fasting-induced atrophic mouse C2C12 myotubes and denervated rat tibialis anterior (TA) muscles were used as in vitro and in vivo models of skeletal muscle atrophy, respectively. The morphological parameters of skeletal muscle were measured by immunostaining-based quantification. The interaction between miR-125b-5p and TRAF6 3'-UTR was detected by luciferase reporter analysis. The mRNA and protein expressions were determined by real-time qPCR and Western blot analysis respectively. The miR mimics/agomir and miR inhibitor/antagomir were transfected into C2C12 myotubes and TA muscles respectively to alter the expression of miR-125b-5p.
Results: The expression of miR-125b-5p was down-regulated in both atrophic C2C12 myotubes and denervated TA muscles. The interaction between miR-125b-5p and TRAF6 3'-UTR was identified. Overexpression of miR-125b-5p protected skeletal muscle samples from atrophy in vitro and in vivo by targeting TRAF6 through inactivation of several ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS)- and autophagy-lysosome system (ALS)-related proteins.
Conclusions: Overexpression of miR-125b-5p may provide a promising therapeutic approach to treat muscle atrophy.