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Open Access Research article

Prolonged activation of S6K1 does not suppress IRS or PI-3 kinase signaling during muscle cell differentiation

D Lee Hamilton, Andrew Philp, Matthew G MacKenzie and Keith Baar*

Author Affiliations

Division of Molecular Physiology, James Black Centre, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK

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BMC Cell Biology 2010, 11:37  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-37

Published: 27 May 2010



Myogenesis in C2C12 cells requires the activation of the PI3K/mTOR signaling pathways. Since mTOR signaling can feedback through S6K1 to inhibit the activation of PI3K, the aim of this work was to assess whether feedback from S6K1 played a role in myogenesis and determine whether siRNA mediated knockdown of S6K1 would lead to an increased rate of myotube formation.


S6K1 activity increased in a linear fashion following plating and was more than 3-fold higher after Day 3 of differentiation (subconfluent = 11.09 ± 3.05, Day 3 = 29.34 ± 3.58). IRS-1 levels tended to increase upon serum withdrawal but decreased approximately 2-fold (subconfluent = 0.88 ± 0.10, Day 3 = 0.42 ± 0.06) 3 days following differentiation whereas IRS-2 protein remained stable. IRS-1 associated p85 was significantly reduced upon serum withdrawal (subconfluent = 0.86 ± 0.07, Day 0 = 0.31 ± 0.05), remaining low through day 1. IRS-2 associated p85 decreased following serum withdrawal (subconfluent = 0.96 ± 0.05, Day 1 = 0.56 ± 0.08) and remained suppressed up to Day 3 following differentiation (0.56 ± 0.05). Phospho-tyrosine associated p85 increased significantly from subconfluent to Day 0 and remained elevated throughout differentiation. siRNA directed against S6K1 and S6K2 did not result in changes in IRS-1 levels after either 48 or 96 hrs. Furthermore, neither 48 nor 96 hrs of S6K1 knockdown caused a change in myotube formation.


Even though S6K1 activity increases throughout muscle cell differentiation and IRS-1 levels decrease over this period, siRNA suggests that S6K1 is not mediating the decrease in IRS-1. The decrease in IRS-1/2 associated p85 together with the increase in phospho-tyrosine associated p85 suggests that PI3K associates primarily with scaffolds other than IRS-1/2 during muscle cell differentiation.