VDR regulates simulated microgravity-induced atrophy in C2C12 myotubes

Sci Rep. 2022 Jan 26;12(1):1377. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-05354-0.


Muscle wasting is a major problem leading to reduced quality of life and higher risks of mortality and various diseases. Muscle atrophy is caused by multiple conditions in which protein degradation exceeds its synthesis, including disuse, malnutrition, and microgravity. While Vitamin D receptor (VDR) is well known to regulate calcium and phosphate metabolism to maintain bone, recent studies have shown that VDR also plays roles in skeletal muscle development and homeostasis. Moreover, its expression is upregulated in muscle undergoing atrophy as well as after muscle injury. Here we show that VDR regulates simulated microgravity-induced atrophy in C2C12 myotubes in vitro. After 8 h of microgravity simulated using 3D-clinorotation, the VDR-binding motif was associated with chromatin regions closed by the simulated microgravity and enhancer regions inactivated by it, which suggests VDR mediates repression of enhancers. In addition, VDR was induced and translocated into the nuclei in response to simulated microgravity. VDR-deficient C2C12 myotubes showed resistance to simulated microgravity-induced atrophy and reduced induction of FBXO32, an atrophy-associated ubiquitin ligase. These results demonstrate that VDR contributes to the regulation of simulated microgravity-induced atrophy at least in part by controlling expression of atrophy-related genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Knockout Techniques / methods
  • Homeostasis / genetics
  • Mice
  • Muscle Development / genetics
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology*
  • Muscular Atrophy / genetics
  • Muscular Atrophy / metabolism*
  • Myoblasts, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Transfection
  • Weightlessness Simulation / adverse effects*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vdr protein, mouse