A novel myogenic function residing in the 5′ non-coding region of Insulin receptor substrate-1 (Irs-1) transcript
Skeletal myoblasts are inherently programmed to leave the cell cycle and begin the differentiation process following removal of exogenous growth factors. Serum withdrawal results in a marked induction of IGF production which is essential for skeletal muscle differentiation in vitro. However, the potential role of the tyrosine kinase IGF-I receptor (thought to be the principal mediator of both IGF-I and II signaling in skeletal muscle) in the decision of myoblasts to begin differentiation following serum withdrawal is unknown. To explore the role of the IGF-I receptor in this decision by skeletal myoblasts, we functionally inactivated endogenous IGF-I receptors in mouse C2C12 cells using a dominant negative, kinase-inactive IGF-I receptor in which the ATP-binding site lysine (K) at residue 1003 has been mutated to alanine (A). Cell lines with the greatest degree of mutant IGF-I receptor expression (A/K cells) demonstrated functional inactivation of endogenous IGF-I receptors as determined by their impaired ability to phosphorylate the principal substrate of the IGF-I receptor, IRS-1, in response to treatment with IGF-I. In addition, the proliferative response of myoblasts to IGF-I was completely abolished in A/K cells. Following withdrawal of exogenous growth factors, A/K cells demonstrated a marked delay in the induction of the gene expression of myogenin, a skeletal muscle-specific transcription factor essential for differentiation, and a subsequent delay in the induction of muscle creatine kinase activity. Delayed differentiation in A/K cells was associated with prolonged phosphorylation of the cell cycle regulatory retinoblastoma (Rb) protein; it is the un- (or hypo-) phosphorylated form of Rb which is known to promote differentiation in skeletal myoblasts. Thus, the IGF-I receptor regulates the timing of myoblast differentiation induced by serum withdrawal. The delayed differentiation of skeletal myoblasts with functionally inactive IGF-I receptors may result, at least in part, from delayed induction of myogenin gene expression and prolonged phosphorylation of the Rb protein.