It was previously appreciated that the determination of skeletal muscle fiber type (fast or slow) could be regulated by class II histone deacetylases (HDACs), which function by inhibiting the transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2). In a report by Potthoff et al. in this issue of the JCI, it is further shown that HDACs are degraded via the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway, opening up a search for the putative E3 ligase that mediates the proteolysis of the responsible HDACs (see the related article beginning on page 2459). In a second report, by Suzuki et al., a new convergence between the biology of muscular dystrophy and muscle atrophy is elucidated (see the related study beginning on page 2468). It had previously been known that NO signaling is dysregulated during muscular dystrophy due to the disruption of the dystrophin glycoprotein complex (DGC), which anchors neuronal NOS (nNOS). Here it is shown that nNOS is similarly perturbed in a setting of skeletal muscle atrophy. Both of these studies suggest new avenues for the treatment of skeletal muscle disease.
David J. Glass
Ubiquitination of class II HDACs causes their degradation via the proteasome, allowing MEF2 to induce a slow–muscle fiber phenotype.