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Journal of animal science

Postmortem proteolysis is reduced in transgenic mice overexpressing calpastatin.


PMID 15032436

Abstract

Using both in vitro and in vivo approaches, numerous studies have provided evidence that mu-calpain is responsible for postmortem proteolysis. This paper reports the effect of overexpression of calpastatin on postmortem proteolysis in transgenic mice. Transgenic mice (n = 8) with a human calpastatin gene, whose expression was driven by the human skeletal muscle actin promoter, were killed along with control nontransgenic littermates (n = 5). Hind limbs were removed and stored at 4 degrees C, and muscle samples were dissected at 0, 1, 3, and 7 d postmortem and analyzed individually. At time 0, active human calpastatin was expressed in transgenic murine skeletal muscle at a level 370-fold greater (P < 0.001) than calpastatin in control mice. Although the native isoform of this protein was degraded with storage, at 7 d postmortem, approximately 78% of at-death activity remained, indicating that degraded calpastatin retains activity. Calpain (mu- and m-) expression was unaffected (P > 0.05) by the transgene as assessed by immunoreactivity at d 0. Over 7 d, 33% of at-death 80-kDa isoform immunoreactivity of mu-calpain was lost in transgenics compared to an 87% loss in controls, indicating that autolysis of mu-calpain was slowed in transgenic mice. Desmin degradation was also inhibited (P < 0.05) in transgenics when compared to controls. Control mice lost 6, 78, and 91% of at-death native desmin at 1, 3, and 7 d postmortem, respectively; conversely, transgenic mice lost only 1, 3, and 17% at the same times. A similar trend was observed when examining the degradation of troponin-T. Interestingly, m-calpain seemed to undergo autolysis in control mice, which in postmortem tissue is indicative of proteolysis. Further investigation revealed that both mu- and m-calpain are active postmortem in normal murine skeletal muscle. In conclusion, a high level of expression of active calpastatin was achieved, which, by virtue of its inhibitory specificity, was determined to be directly responsible for a decrease in postmortem proteolysis.