Mammalian skeletal muscle contains heterogenous myofibers with different contractile and metabolic properties that sustain muscle mass and endurance capacity. The transcriptional regulators that govern these myofiber gene programs have been elucidated. However, the hormonal cues that direct the specification of myofiber types and muscle endurance remain largely unknown. Here we uncover the secreted factor Tsukushi (TSK) as an extracellular signal that is required for maintaining muscle mass, strength, and endurance capacity, and contributes to muscle regeneration. Mice lacking TSK exhibited reduced grip strength and impaired exercise capacity. Muscle transcriptomic analysis revealed that TSK deficiency results in a remarkably selective impairment in the expression of myofibrillar genes characteristic of slow-twitch muscle fibers that is associated with abnormal neuromuscular junction formation. AAV-mediated overexpression of TSK failed to rescue these myofiber defects in adult mice, suggesting that the effects of TSK on myofibers are likely restricted to certain developmental stages. Finally, mice lacking TSK exhibited diminished muscle regeneration following cardiotoxin-induced muscle injury. These findings support a crucial role of TSK as a hormonal cue in the regulation of contractile gene expression, endurance capacity, and muscle regeneration.
Qiuyu Wang, Xiaoxue Qiu, Tongyu Liu, Cheehoon Ahn, Jeffrey F. Horowitz, Jiandie D. Lin