The loss of muscle mass and force characterizes muscle atrophy in several different conditions, which share the expression of atrogenes and the activation of their transcriptional regulators. However, attempts to antagonize muscle atrophy development in different experimental contexts by targeting contributors to the atrogene pathway showed partial effects in most cases. Other master regulators might independently contribute to muscle atrophy, as suggested by our recent evidence about the co-requirement of the muscle-specific chaperone protein melusin to inhibit unloading muscle atrophy development. Furthermore, melusin and other muscle mass regulators, such as nNOS, belong to costameres, the macromolecular complexes that connect sarcolemma to myofibrils and to the extracellular matrix, in correspondence with specific sarcomeric sites. Costameres sense a mechanical load and transduce it both as lateral force and biochemical signals. Recent evidence further broadens this classic view, by revealing the crucial participation of costameres in a sarcolemmal “signaling hub” integrating mechanical and humoral stimuli, where mechanical signals are coupled with insulin and/or insulin-like growth factor stimulation to regulate muscle mass. Therefore, this review aims to enucleate available evidence concerning the early involvement of costamere components and additional putative master regulators in the development of major types of muscle atrophy.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited