Essential amino acid ingestion alters expression of genes associated with amino acid sensing, transport, and mTORC1 regulation in human skeletal muscle

Theodore Graber, Michael S. Borack, Paul T. Reidy, Elena Volpi, Blake Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Background: Amino acid availability stimulates protein synthesis via the mTORC1 (mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1) signaling pathway. In response to an increase in cellular amino acid availability, translocation of cytosolic mTORC1 to the lysosomal surface is required to stimulate mTORC1 kinase activity. However, research elucidating the amino acid responsive mechanisms have thus far only been conducted in in vitro models. Our primary objective was to determine whether an increase in amino acid availability within human skeletal muscle in vivo would alter the expression of genes associated with amino acid sensing, transport and mTORC1 regulation. Our secondary objective was to determine whether an acute perturbation in lysosomal function would disrupt the normal pattern of muscle amino acid responsive gene expression. Methods: We recruited 13 young adults into one of two groups: The first group ingested 10 g of essential amino acids (EAA). The second group ingested 10 g of EAA in the presence of chloroquine (CQ), a lysosomotropic agent. The subjects from each group had biopsies of the vastus lateralis taken before and after EAA ingestion. We determined the relative mRNA expression of 51 potential amino acid responsive genes using RT-qPCR. Results: There was a differential mRNA expression for 22 genes, with 15 mRNAs significantly changing (P < 0.05) in response to EAA ingestion (e.g., REDD1: +209 ± 35%; SLC38A9: +31 ± 9%; SLC38A10: +57 ± 15%). In the CQ group, EAA ingestion resulted in a differential expression as compared to EAA alone (i.e., 11 out of the 22 genes were different (P < 0.05) between the two groups.) Conclusions: Expression of several amino acid sensing, transport, and mTORC1 regulatory genes in human skeletal muscle are responsive to an increase in amino acid availability. Furthermore, potential acute disruption of lysosomal function by ingestion of chloroquine interferes with the normal pattern of gene expression following feeding. Our in vivo data in humans provide preliminary support for the in vitro work linking amino acid sensing pathways to mTORC1 translocation to the lysosome. Trial Registration: NCT00891696. Registered 29 April 2009.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number35
JournalNutrition and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 11 2017



  • Chloroquine
  • Lysosome
  • mTORC1
  • Muscle
  • Protein synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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