Genetic variation of putative myokine signaling is dominated by biological sex and sex hormones

Skeletal muscle plays an integral role in coordinating physiological homeostasis, where signaling to other tissues via myokines allows for coordination of complex processes. Here, we aimed to leverage natural genetic correlation structure of gene expression both within and across tissues to understand how muscle interacts with metabolic tissues. Specifically, we performed a survey of genetic correlations focused on myokine gene regulation, muscle cell composition, cross-tissue signaling, and interactions with genetic sex in humans. While expression levels of a majority of myokines and cell proportions within skeletal muscle showed little relative differences between males and females, nearly all significant cross-tissue enrichments operated in a sex-specific or hormone-dependent fashion; in particular, with estradiol. These sex- and hormone-specific effects were consistent across key metabolic tissues: liver, pancreas, hypothalamus, intestine, heart, visceral, and subcutaneous adipose tissue. To characterize the role of estradiol receptor signaling on myokine expression, we generated male and female mice which lack estrogen receptor α specifically in skeletal muscle (MERKO) and integrated with human data. These analyses highlighted potential mechanisms of sex-dependent myokine signaling conserved between species, such as myostatin enriched for divergent substrate utilization pathways between sexes. Several other putative sex-dependent mechanisms of myokine signaling were uncovered, such as muscle-derived tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFA) enriched for stronger inflammatory signaling in females compared to males and GPX3 as a male-specific link between glycolytic fiber abundance and hepatic inflammation. Collectively, we provide a population genetics framework for inferring muscle signaling to metabolic tissues in humans. We further highlight sex and estradiol receptor signaling as critical variables when assaying myokine functions and how changes in cell composition are predicted to impact other metabolic organs.Read more…

Skeletal muscle plays an integral role in coordinating physiological homeostasis, where signaling to other tissues via myokines allows for coordination of complex processes. Here, we aimed to leverage natural genetic correlation structure of gene expression both within and across tissues to understand how muscle interacts with metabolic tissues. Specifically, we performed a survey of genetic correlations focused on myokine gene regulation, muscle cell composition, cross-tissue signaling, and interactions with genetic sex in humans. While expression levels of a majority of myokines and cell proportions within skeletal muscle showed little relative differences between males and females, nearly all significant cross-tissue enrichments operated in a sex-specific or hormone-dependent fashion; in particular, with estradiol. These sex- and hormone-specific effects were consistent across key metabolic tissues: liver, pancreas, hypothalamus, intestine, heart, visceral, and subcutaneous adipose tissue. To characterize the role of estradiol receptor signaling on myokine expression, we generated male and female mice which lack estrogen receptor α specifically in skeletal muscle (MERKO) and integrated with human data. These analyses highlighted potential mechanisms of sex-dependent myokine signaling conserved between species, such as myostatin enriched for divergent substrate utilization pathways between sexes. Several other putative sex-dependent mechanisms of myokine signaling were uncovered, such as muscle-derived tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFA) enriched for stronger inflammatory signaling in females compared to males and GPX3 as a male-specific link between glycolytic fiber abundance and hepatic inflammation. Collectively, we provide a population genetics framework for inferring muscle signaling to metabolic tissues in humans. We further highlight sex and estradiol receptor signaling as critical variables when assaying myokine functions and how changes in cell composition are predicted to impact other metabolic organs.Read more…


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