The observation that increased muscular activity leads to muscle hypertrophy is well known, but identification of the biochemical and physiological mechanisms by which this occurs remains an important problem. Experiments have been described (5, 6) which suggest that creatine, an end product of contraction, is involved in the control of contractile protein synthesis in differentiating skeletal muscle cells and may be the chemical signal coupling increased muscular activity and the increased muscular mass. During contraction, the creatine concentration in muscle transiently increases as creatine phosphate is hydrolyzed to regenerate ATP. In isometric contraction in skeletal muscle for example, Edwards and colleagues (3) have found that nearly all of the creatine phosphate is hydrolyzed. In this case, the creatine concentration is increased about twofold, and it is this transient change in creatine concentration which is postulated to lead to increased contractile protein synthesis. If creatine is found in several intracellular compartments, as suggested by Lee and Vissher (7), local changes in concentration may be greater then twofold. A specific effect on contractile protein synthesis seems reasonable in light of the work of Rabinowitz (13) and of Page et al. (11), among others, showing disproportionate accumulation of myofibrillar and mitochondrial proteins in response to work-induced hypertrophy and thyroxin-stimulated growth. Previous experiments (5, 6) have shown that skeletal muscles cells which have differentiated in vitro or in vivo synthesize myosin heavy-chain and actin, the major myofibrillar polypeptides, faster when supplied creatine in vitro. The stimulation is specific for contractile protein synthesis since neither the rate of myosin turnover nor the rates of synthesis of noncontractile protein and DNA are affected by creatine. The experiments reported in this communication were undertaken to test whether creatine selectively stimulates contractile protein synthesis in heart as it does in skeletal muscle.

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