Background: Group I Paks are serine/threonine kinases that function as major effectors of the small GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42, and they regulate cytoskeletal dynamics, cell polarity, and transcription. We previously demonstrated that Pak1 and Pak2 function redundantly to promote skeletal myoblast differentiation during postnatal development and regeneration in mice. However, the roles of Pak1 and Pak2 in adult muscle homeostasis are unknown. Choline kinase β (Chk β) is important for adult muscle homeostasis, as autosomal recessive mutations in CHKβ are associated with two human muscle diseases, megaconial congenital muscular dystrophy and proximal myopathy with focal depletion of mitochondria. Methods: We analyzed mice conditionally lacking Pak1 and Pak2 in the skeletal muscle lineage (double knockout (dKO) mice) over 1 year of age. Muscle integrity in dKO mice was assessed with histological stains, immunofluorescence, electron microscopy, and western blotting. Assays for mitochondrial respiratory complex function were performed, as was mass spectrometric quantification of products of choline kinase. Mice and cultured myoblasts deficient for choline kinase β (Chk β) were analyzed for Pak1/2 phosphorylation. Results: dKO mice developed an age-related myopathy. By 10 months of age, dKO mouse muscles displayed centrally-nucleated myofibers, fibrosis, and signs of degeneration. Disease severity occurred in a rostrocaudal gradient, hindlimbs more strongly affected than forelimbs. A distinctive feature of this myopathy was elongated and branched intermyofibrillar (megaconial) mitochondria, accompanied by focal mitochondrial depletion in the central region of the fiber. dKO muscles showed reduced mitochondrial respiratory complex I and II activity. These phenotypes resemble those of rmd mice, which lack Chkβ and are a model for human diseases associated with CHKβ deficiency. Pak1/2 and Chkβ activities were not interdependent in mouse skeletal muscle, suggesting a more complex relationship in regulation of mitochondria and muscle homeostasis. Conclusions: Conditional loss of Pak1 and Pak2 in mice resulted in an age-dependent myopathy with similarity to mice and humans with CHKβ deficiency. Protein kinases are major regulators of most biological processes but few have been implicated in muscle maintenance or disease. Pak1/Pak2 dKO mice offer new insights into these processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalSkeletal Muscle
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 Feb 2019


  • Choline kinase
  • Mitochondria
  • Myopathy
  • Pak kinase
  • Skeletal muscle


Dive into the research topics of 'Late-onset megaconial myopathy in mice lacking group i Paks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this