Crosstalk between glucocorticoid receptor and nutritional sensor mTOR in skeletal muscle

Cell Metab. 2011 Feb 2;13(2):170-82. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.01.001.


Maintenance of skeletal muscle mass relies on the dynamic balance between anabolic and catabolic processes and is important for motility, systemic energy homeostasis, and viability. We identified direct target genes of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in skeletal muscle, i.e., REDD1 and KLF15. As well as REDD1, KLF15 inhibits mTOR activity, but via a distinct mechanism involving BCAT2 gene activation. Moreover, KLF15 upregulates the expression of the E3 ubiquitin ligases atrogin-1 and MuRF1 genes and negatively modulates myofiber size. Thus, GR is a liaison involving a variety of downstream molecular cascades toward muscle atrophy. Notably, mTOR activation inhibits GR transcription function and efficiently counteracts the catabolic processes provoked by glucocorticoids. This mutually exclusive crosstalk between GR and mTOR, a highly coordinated interaction between the catabolic hormone signal and the anabolic machinery, may be a rational mechanism for fine-tuning of muscle volume and a potential therapeutic target for muscle wasting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / genetics
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • SKP Cullin F-Box Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Ddit4 protein, rat
  • Klf15 protein, rat
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Fbxo32 protein, rat
  • SKP Cullin F-Box Protein Ligases
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • mTOR protein, rat