Hughes receives K01 to study proteins’ role in skeletal muscle atrophy

David Hughes, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, was awarded a five-year, $600,000 K01 award from the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award will allow Hughes to determine the role of the proteins E3 ligase, F-box and leucine-rich repeat protein 22 (Fbxl22) in skeletal muscle atrophy. 

Skeletal muscle atrophy occurs as a consequence of many chronic diseases and conditions such as inactivity. Central to the process of muscle atrophy is protein degradation, for which the enzyme family, known as E3 ubiquitin ligases, is critical in targeting specific proteins for degradation. However, the roles of many E3 ubiquitin ligases in muscle are unknown and specific substrates have yet to be identified. 

Hughes is a member of the lab directed by Sue Bodine, PhD, professor in Endocrinology and Metabolism. Under Bodine’s mentorship and with guidance from an advisory committee that includes Lilliana Radoshevich, PhD, assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Michael Shy, PhD, professor of Neurology, the project will utilize various atrophy models in conjunction with quantitative proteomics to enhance understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the process of muscle wasting.

“The award is a testament to the excellent mentorship and collaborative environment that I have received and been exposed to during my time in the department,” Hughes said. “It will provide a strong foundation in my future pursuit towards building an independent research program.”

The project will expand on research previously published in the American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology, which identified the role of Fbxl22 in neurogenic muscle atrophy.  Earlier this year, Hughes published another study in Function, an American Physiological Society journal. Hughes and his collaborators examined another E3 ubiquitin ligases, MuRF1 (TRIM63), which is a known marker of muscle atrophy. 

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