Myostatin and the skeletal muscle atrophy and hypertrophy signaling pathways

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Nov;71(22):4361-71. doi: 10.1007/s00018-014-1689-x. Epub 2014 Jul 31.


Myostatin, a member of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, is a potent negative regulator of skeletal muscle growth and is conserved in many species, from rodents to humans. Myostatin inactivation can induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy, while its overexpression or systemic administration causes muscle atrophy. As it represents a potential target for stimulating muscle growth and/or preventing muscle wasting, myostatin regulation and functions in the control of muscle mass have been extensively studied. A wealth of data strongly suggests that alterations in skeletal muscle mass are associated with dysregulation in myostatin expression. Moreover, myostatin plays a central role in integrating/mediating anabolic and catabolic responses. Myostatin negatively regulates the activity of the Akt pathway, which promotes protein synthesis, and increases the activity of the ubiquitin-proteasome system to induce atrophy. Several new studies have brought new information on how myostatin may affect both ribosomal biogenesis and translation efficiency of specific mRNA subclasses. In addition, although myostatin has been identified as a modulator of the major catabolic pathways, including the ubiquitin-proteasome and the autophagy-lysosome systems, the underlying mechanisms are only partially understood. The goal of this review is to highlight outstanding questions about myostatin-mediated regulation of the anabolic and catabolic signaling pathways in skeletal muscle. Particular emphasis has been placed on (1) the cross-regulation between myostatin, the growth-promoting pathways and the proteolytic systems; (2) how myostatin inhibition leads to muscle hypertrophy; and (3) the regulation of translation by myostatin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Atrophy / metabolism*
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • Myostatin / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • Myostatin
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases