Extracellular Regulation of Myostatin: A Molecular Rheostat for Muscle Mass

Immunol Endocr Metab Agents Med Chem. 2010;10:183-194. doi: 10.2174/187152210793663748.


Myostatin (MSTN) is a transforming growth factor-ß family member that plays a critical role in regulating skeletal muscle mass. Genetic studies in multiple species have demonstrated that mutations in the Mstn gene lead to dramatic and widespread increases in muscle mass as a result of a combination of increased fiber numbers and increased fiber sizes. MSTN inhibitors have also been shown to cause significant increases in muscle growth when administered to adult mice. As a result, there has been an extensive effort to understand the mechanisms underlying MSTN regulation and activity with the goal of developing the most effective strategies for targeting this signaling pathway for clinical applications. Here, I review the current state of knowledge regarding the regulation of MSTN extracellularly by binding proteins and discuss the implications of these findings both with respect to the fundamental physiological role that MSTN plays in regulating tissue homeostasis and with respect to the development of therapeutic agents to combat muscle loss.