Myogenin Regulates Exercise Capacity and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism in the Adult Mouse

Although skeletal muscle metabolism is a well-studied physiological process, little is known about how it is regulated at the transcriptional level. The myogenic transcription factor myogenin is required for skeletal muscle development during embryonic and fetal life, but myogenin's role in adult skeletal muscle is unclear. We sought to determine myogenin's function in adult muscle metabolism. A Myog conditional allele and Cre-ER transgene were used to delete Myog in adult mice. Mice were analyzed for exercise capacity by involuntary treadmill running. To assess oxidative and glycolytic metabolism, we performed indirect calorimetry, monitored blood glucose and lactate levels, and performed histochemical analyses on muscle fibers. Surprisingly, we found that Myog-deleted mice performed significantly better than controls in high- and low-intensity treadmill running. This enhanced exercise capacity was due to more efficient oxidative metabolism during low- and high-intensity exercise and more efficient glycolytic metabolism during high-intensity exercise. Furthermore, Myog-deleted mice had an enhanced response to long-term voluntary exercise training on running wheels. We identified several candidate genes whose expression was altered in exercise-stressed muscle of mice lacking myogenin. The results suggest that myogenin plays a critical role as a high-level transcriptional regulator to control the energy balance between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism in adult skeletal muscle.