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Transgenic overexpression of γ-cytoplasmic actin protects against eccentric contraction-induced force loss in mdx mice

Kristen A Baltgalvis1, Michele A Jaeger1, Daniel P Fitzsimons2, Stanley A Thayer3, Dawn A Lowe4 and James M Ervasti1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, University of Minnesota, 6-155 Jackson Hall, 321 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

2 Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology, University of Wisconsin, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI, 53706, USA

3 Department of Pharmacology, University of Minnesota, 6-120 Jackson Hall, 321 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, USA

4 Program in Physical Therapy, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55454, USA

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Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:32  doi:10.1186/2044-5040-1-32

Published: 13 October 2011



γ-cytoplasmic (γ-cyto) actin levels are elevated in dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse skeletal muscle. The purpose of this study was to determine whether further elevation of γ-cyto actin levels improve or exacerbate the dystrophic phenotype of mdx mice.


We transgenically overexpressed γ-cyto actin, specifically in skeletal muscle of mdx mice (mdx-TG), and compared skeletal muscle pathology and force-generating capacity between mdx and mdx-TG mice at different ages. We investigated the mechanism by which γ-cyto actin provides protection from force loss by studying the role of calcium channels and stretch-activated channels in isolated skeletal muscles and muscle fibers. Analysis of variance or independent t-tests were used to detect statistical differences between groups.


Levels of γ-cyto actin in mdx-TG skeletal muscle were elevated 200-fold compared to mdx skeletal muscle and incorporated into thin filaments. Overexpression of γ-cyto actin had little effect on most parameters of mdx muscle pathology. However, γ-cyto actin provided statistically significant protection against force loss during eccentric contractions. Store-operated calcium entry across the sarcolemma did not differ between mdx fibers compared to wild-type fibers. Additionally, the omission of extracellular calcium or the addition of streptomycin to block stretch-activated channels did not improve the force-generating capacity of isolated extensor digitorum longus muscles from mdx mice during eccentric contractions.


The data presented in this study indicate that upregulation of γ-cyto actin in dystrophic skeletal muscle can attenuate force loss during eccentric contractions and that the mechanism is independent of activation of stretch-activated channels and the accumulation of extracellular calcium.

stretch-activated channels; calcium; skeletal muscle injury; dystrophin; costamere