The forkhead transcription factor forkhead box protein O1 (FoxO1), a downstream target of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signaling, has been reported to suppress skeletal myocyte differentiation, but the mechanism by which FoxO1 regulates myogenesis is not fully understood. We have previously demonstrated that a nutrient-sensing mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway controls the autocrine production of IGF-II and the subsequent phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signaling downstream of IGF-II in myogenesis. Here we report a regulatory loop connecting FoxO1 to the mTOR pathway. Inducible activation of a FoxO1 active mutant in the C2C12 mouse myoblasts blocks myogenic differentiation at an early stage and meanwhile leads to proteasome-dependent degradation of a specific subset of components in the mTOR signaling network, including mTOR, raptor, tuberous sclerosis complex 2, and S6 protein kinase 1. This function of FoxO1 requires new protein synthesis, consistent with the idea that a transcriptional target of FoxO1 may be responsible for the degradation of mTOR. We further show that active FoxO1 inhibits IGF-II expression at the transcriptional activation level, through the modulation of mTOR protein levels. Moreover, the addition of exogenous IGF-II fully rescues myocyte differentiation from FoxO inhibition. Taken together, we propose that the mTOR-IGF-II pathway is a major mediator of FoxO's inhibitory function in skeletal myogenesis.
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