Increased nuclear but not cytoplasmic activities of CELF1 protein leads to muscle wasting

Diana C. Cox, Xiangnan Guan, Zheng Xia, Thomas A. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


mRNA processing is highly regulated during development through changes in RNA-binding protein (RBP) activities. CUG-BP, Elav-like family member 1 (CELF1, also called CUGBP1) is an RBP, the expression of which decreases in skeletal muscle soon after birth. CELF1 regulates multiple nuclear and cytoplasmic RNA processing events. In the nucleus, CELF1 regulates networks of postnatal alternative splicing (AS) transitions, while in the cytoplasm, CELF1 regulates mRNA stability and translation. Stabilization and misregulation of CELF1 has been implicated in human diseases including myotonic dystrophy type 1, Alzheimer's disease and multiple cancers. To understand the contribution of nuclear and cytoplasmic CELF1 activity to normal and pathogenic skeletal muscle biology, we generated transgenic mice for doxycycline-inducible and skeletal muscle-specific expression of active CELF1 mutants engineered to be localized predominantly to either the nucleus or the cytoplasm. Adult mice expressing nuclear, but not cytoplasmic, CELF1 are characterized by strong histopathological defects, muscle loss within 10 days and changes in AS. In contrast, mice expressing cytoplasmic CELF1 display changes in protein levels of targets known to be regulated at the level of translation by CELF1, with minimal changes in AS. These changes are in the absence of overt histopathological changes or muscle loss. RNA-sequencing revealed extensive gene expression and AS changes in mice overexpressing nuclear and naturally localized CELF1 protein, with affected genes involved in cytoskeleton dynamics, membrane dynamics, RNA processing and zinc ion binding. These results support a stronger role for nuclear CELF1 functions as compared to cytoplasmic CELF1 functions in skeletal muscle wasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1729-1744
Number of pages16
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 27 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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