Nuclei of aged myofibres undergo structural and functional changes suggesting impairment in RNA processing


Advancing adult age is associated with a progressive decrease in skeletal muscle mass, strength and quality known as sarcopenia. The mechanisms underlying age-related skeletal muscle wasting and weakness are manifold and still remain to be fully elucidated. Despite the increasing evidence that the progress of muscle diseases leading to muscle atrophy/dystrophy may be related to defective RNA processing, no data on the morpho-functional features of skeletal muscle nuclei in sarcopenia are available at present. In this view, we have investigated, by combining morphometry and immunocytochemistry at light and electron microscopy, the fine structure of myonuclei as well as the distribution and amount of RNA processing factors in skeletal myofibres of biceps brachii and quadriceps femoris from adult and old rats. Results demonstrate that the myonuclei of aged type II fibres show an increased amount of condensed chromatin and lower amounts of phosphorylated polymerase II and DNA/RNA hybrid molecules, clearly indicating a decrease in pre-mRNA transcription rate compared to adult animals. In addition, myonuclei of aged fibres show decreased amounts of nucleoplasmic splicing factors and an accumulation of cleavage factors, polyadenilated RNA and perichromatin granules, suggesting a reduction in the processing and transport rate of premRNA. During ageing, it seems therefore that in rat myonuclei the entire production chain of mRNA, from synthesis to cytoplasmic export, is less efficient. This failure likely contributes to the reduced responsiveness of muscle cells to anabolic stimuli in the elderly.



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Original Papers
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How to Cite
Malatesta, M., Perdoni, F., Muller, S., Zancanaro, C., & Pellicciari, C. (2009). Nuclei of aged myofibres undergo structural and functional changes suggesting impairment in RNA processing. European Journal of Histochemistry, 53(2), e12.

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