Ferguson, David Paul (2013-08). Skeletal Muscle as a Mechanism for Peripheral Regulation of Voluntary Physical Activity. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Physical activity can prevent cardiovascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes and some types of cancer. With only 3.5% of adults meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines, research has focused on the regulatory factors that influence physical activity level. Genetic influence accounts for the majority of physical activity regulation. However, there is limited information on the mechanisms that affect physical activity, in part, because of a lack of reliable methods to silence genes in vivo. The purpose of this dissertation was to identify mechanisms in skeletal muscle that influence physical activity. The methods used to accomplish the purpose of this dissertation were the evaluation of Vivo-morpholinos as a gene silencing tool in skeletal muscle and brain, identification of proteins in skeletal muscle associated with increased physical activity level, and the use Vivo-morpholinos to transiently knockdown the identified skeletal muscle proteins as a means to elucidate mechanisms for the peripheral regulation of physical activity. Overall, this study showed that Vivo-morpholinos effectively silenced genes in skeletal muscle yet required the use of a pharmacological aid to achieve gene silencing in the brain. Additionally proteins associated with calcium regulation (Annexin A6 and Calsequestrin 1) and the Kreb's (TCA) cycle were found to be over expressed in the high active animals. The knockdown of Annexin A6 and Calsequestrin 1 resulted in a significant decrease in physical activity, thus showing that calcium regulation could influence the physical activity response. While these results provide a potential mechanism for the peripheral regulation of physical activity, a side effect observed was that Vivo-morpholinos can hybridize resulting in increased mortality rates of the treatment animals. Therefore, we developed methods to alleviate the toxic effects of Vivo-morpholinos. Thus, this dissertation refined a technique for determining a gene's effect in an in vivo model and identified two candidate proteins (Annexin A6 and Calsequestrin 1) that play a role in regulating daily physical activity.

publication date

  • August 2013