Significant progress has expanded our knowledge of the signaling pathways coordinating muscle protein turnover during various conditions including exercise. In this manuscript, the multiple mechanisms that govern the turnover of cellular components are reviewed, and their overall roles in adaptations to exercise training are discussed. Recent studies have highlighted the central role of the energy sensor (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK), forkhead box class O subfamily protein (FOXO) transcription factors and the kinase mechanistic (or mammalian) target of rapamycin complex (MTOR) in the regulation of autophagy for organelle maintenance during exercise. A new cellular trafficking involving the lysosome was also revealed for full activation of MTOR and protein synthesis during recovery. Other emerging candidates have been found to be relevant in organelle turnover, especially Parkin and the mitochondrial E3 ubiquitin protein ligase (Mul1) pathways for mitochondrial turnover, and the glycerolipids diacylglycerol (DAG) for protein translation and FOXO regulation. Recent experiments with autophagy and mitophagy flux assessment have also provided important insights concerning mitochondrial turnover during ageing and chronic exercise. However, data in humans are often controversial and further investigations are needed to clarify the involvement of autophagy in exercise performed with additional stresses, such as hypoxia, and to understand the influence of exercise modality. Improving our knowledge of these pathways should help develop therapeutic ways to counteract muscle disorders in pathological conditions.
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