Sulforaphane causes a major epigenetic repression of myostatin in porcine satellite cells

Epigenetics. 2012 Dec 1;7(12):1379-90. doi: 10.4161/epi.22609. Epub 2012 Oct 23.


Satellite cells function as skeletal muscle stem cells to support postnatal muscle growth and regeneration following injury or disease. There is great promise for the improvement of muscle performance in livestock and for the therapy of muscle pathologies in humans by the targeting of myostatin (MSTN) in this cell population. Human diet contains many histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, such as the bioactive component sulforaphane (SFN), whose epigenetic effects on MSTN gene in satellite cells are unknown. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the epigenetic influences of SFN on the MSTN gene in satellite cells. The present work provides the first evidence, which is distinct from the effects of trichostatin A (TSA), that SFN supplementation in vitro not only acts as a HDAC inhibitor but also as a DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitor in porcine satellite cells. Compared with TSA and 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC), SFN treatment significantly represses MSTN expression, accompanied by strongly attenuated expression of negative feedback inhibitors of the MSTN signaling pathway. miRNAs targeting MSTN are not implicated in posttranscriptional regulation of MSTN. Nevertheless, a weakly enriched myoblast determination (MyoD) protein associated with diminished histone acetylation in the MyoD binding site located in the MSTN promoter region may contribute to the transcriptional repression of MSTN by SFN. These findings reveal a new mode of epigenetic repression of MSTN by the bioactive compound SFN. This novel pharmacological, biological activity of SFN in satellite cells may thus allow for the development of novel approaches to weaken the MSTN signaling pathway, both for therapies of human skeletal muscle disorders and for livestock production improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Animals
  • Azacitidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Azacitidine / pharmacology
  • Base Sequence
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Decitabine
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Follistatin / genetics
  • Follistatin / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology
  • Isothiocyanates
  • MicroRNAs
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • MyoD Protein / metabolism
  • Myostatin / genetics*
  • Myostatin / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / drug effects*
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Sulfoxides
  • Swine
  • Thiocyanates / pharmacology*


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Follistatin
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • Isothiocyanates
  • MicroRNAs
  • MyoD Protein
  • Myostatin
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates
  • trichostatin A
  • Decitabine
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases
  • sulforaphane
  • Azacitidine