Autophagy controls neonatal myogenesis by regulating the GH-IGF1 system through a NFE2L2- and DDIT3-mediated mechanism

Silvia Zecchini, Matteo Giovarelli, Cristiana Perrotta, Federica Morisi, Thierry Touvier, Ilaria Di Renzo, Claudia Moscheni, Maria Teresa Bassi, Davide Cervia, Marco Sandri, Emilio Clementi, Clara De Palma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Macroautophagy/autophagy is emerging as an important process in adult muscle stem cells functions: it regulates metabolic reprogramming during activation from a quiescent state, maintains stemness and prevents senescence. We now show that autophagy is specifically required for neonatal myogenesis and muscle development. Specific deletion of Atg7 in PAX7+ (paired box 7) precursors led in mice to a dwarf phenotype, with an effect restricted to the neonatal phase of muscle development. Atg7 knockdown suppressed neonatal satellite cell (nSC) proliferation and differentiation, downregulating the GH-IGF1 functions. When we disrupted autophagy, NFE2L2/NRF2 (nuclear factor, erythroid 2 like 2) accumulated in muscle and nSCs and negatively modulated DDIT3/CHOP (DNA-damage inducible transcript 3) expression. Lower levels of DDIT3 were responsible for reduced GHR expression leading to impaired local production of IGF1. Our results conclusively identify a novel autophagy-dependent pathway that regulates nSC behavior and indicate that autophagy is required for skeletal muscle development in the neonatal phase. Abbreviations: AKT/protein kinase B: Thymoma viral proto-oncogene; ASCs: adult stem cells; ATF4: activating transcription factor 4; ATG7: autophagy related 7; BAT: brown adipose tissue; BMP: bone morphogenetic protein; CEBPB: CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP), beta; CSA: cross sectional area; CTNNB1: catenin (cadherin associated protein), beta 1; DDIT3: DNA-damage inducible transcript 3; DM: differentiation medium; E: embryonic stage; EIF2AK3/PERK; EIF4EBP1: eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 alpha kinase 3; eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1; ER: endoplasmic reticulum; FGF21: fibroblast growth factor 21; GH: growth hormone; GHR: growth hormone receptor; HSCs: hematopoietic stem cells; IGF1: insulin-like growth factor 1; ITGAM: integrin alpha M; KEAP1: kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1; LY6A/Sca-1; MAP1LC3: lymphocyte antigen 6 complex, locus A; microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3; MAPK1/ERK2: mitogen-activated protein kinase 1; MAPK3/ERK1: mitogen-activated protein kinase 3; miRNAs: microRNAs; MSCs: mesenchymal stem cells; MTOR: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; mtUPR: mitochondrial unfolded protein response; MYF5: myogenic factor 5; MYH: myosin, heavy polypeptide; MYOD1: myogenic differentiation 1; MYOG: myogenin; NFE2L2: nuclear factor, erythroid derived 2, like 2; nSC: neonatal satellite cells; NSCs: neuronal stem cells; P: postnatal day; PAX7: paired box 7; PECAM1: platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1; PPARG: peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma; PTPRC: protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type, C; ROS: reactive oxygen species; RPS6: ribosomal protein S6; SCs: adult satellite cells; SQSTM1: sequestosome 1; STAT5: signal transducer and activator of transcription 5; TGFB1: transforming growth factor beta 1; WAT: white adipose tissue; WT: wild type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-77
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • DDIT3
  • development
  • dwarf mice
  • GHR
  • muscle
  • NFE2L2
  • satellite cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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