Sarcolipin exhibits abundant RNA transcription and minimal protein expression in horse gluteal muscle

Joseph M. Autry, Christine B. Karim, Sudeep Perumbakkam, Carrie J. Finno, Erica C. McKenzie, David D. Thomas, Stephanie J. Valberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Ca2+ regulation in equine muscle is important for horse performance, yet little is known about this species-specific regulation. We reported recently that horse encode unique gene and protein sequences for the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+-transporting ATPase (SERCA) and the regulatory subunit sarcolipin (SLN). Here we quantified gene transcription and protein expression of SERCA and its inhibitory peptides in horse gluteus, as compared to commonly-studied rabbit skeletal muscle. RNA sequencing and protein immunoblotting determined that horse gluteus expresses the ATP2A1 gene (SERCA1) as the predominant SR Ca2+-ATPase isoform and the SLN gene as the most-abundant SERCA inhibitory peptide, as also found in rabbit skeletal muscle. Equine muscle expresses an insignificant level of phospholamban (PLN), another key SERCA inhibitory peptide expressed commonly in a variety of mammalian striated muscles. Surprisingly in horse, the RNA transcript ratio of SLN-to-ATP2A1 is an order of magnitude higher than in rabbit, while the corresponding protein expression ratio is an order of magnitude lower than in rabbit. Thus, SLN is not efficiently translated or maintained as a stable protein in horse muscle, suggesting a non-coding role for supra-abundant SLN mRNA. We propose that the lack of SLN and PLN inhibition of SERCA activity in equine muscle is an evolutionary adaptation that potentiates Ca2+ cycling and muscle contractility in a prey species domestically selected for speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number178
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalVeterinary Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Equidae
  • Gene expression profiling
  • Intracellular membranes
  • Long noncoding RNA
  • Peptides
  • Protein subunits
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Sarcolipin
  • Sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium-transporting ATPases
  • Western blotting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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