Student: Jordan Fuqua, Graduate Student in Human Physiology, University of Iowa
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Vitor Lira
Regulation of Muscle Protein Turnover via Autophagy Modulation
I study how protein turnover is regulated in skeletal muscle via a process called autophagy. Autophagy is the recycling center of the cell. Cells make materials, such as proteins, that are necessary for survival, but eventually, these materials become old or dysfunctional creating a toxic environment if left unchecked. Autophagy recognizes those old/dysfunctional materials and breaks them down into their basic biological units which can be used as fuel or basic building blocks to maintain cellular function. Maintenance of muscle mass and function through proper protein turnover is well established, however, the molecular mechanisms regulating this are not well understood. For my doctoral dissertation, I am investigating how protein turnover is regulated in muscle using a skeletal muscle-specific knockout mouse model where we knock out genes related to autophagy function. With these models, we will examine different ages/time-points and the resulting impacts on muscle quality and function. This will give us insight into the catabolic processes regulating muscle protein turnover in hopes of alleviating the impairments in muscle quality and performance associated with unloading, as seen in space travel and other conditions with poor protein homeostasis like aging.