Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid, stabilizes numb protein through inhibition of mdm2 in C2C12 myoblasts

Xin Hua Liu, Shen Yao, Alice C. Levine, Alexander Kirschenbaum, Jiangping Pan, Yong Wu, Weiping Qin, Lauren Collier, William A. Bauman, Christopher P. Cardozo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid, slows denervation atrophy of rat muscle, prevents denervation-induced nuclear accumulation of intracellular domain of the Notch receptor, and elevates expression of Numb. Numb acts as an inhibitor of Notch signaling and promotes myogenic differentiation of satellite cells. Turnover of Numb is regulated by mdm2, an E3 ubiquitin ligase. With these considerations in mind, we investigated the effects of nandrolone on the expression of Numb and mdm2 proteins and determined the effect of mdm2 on nandrolone-induced alterations in Numb protein in C2C12 myoblasts. When C2C12 cells were cultured in a medium favoring differentiation (Dulbecco modified Eagle medium containing 2% horse serum), nandrolone up-regulated Numb protein levels in a time-dependent manner and prolonged Numb protein half-life from 10 to 18 hours. In contrast, nandrolone reduced the expression of mdm2 protein. To determine whether the decreased mdm2 expression induced by nandrolone was responsible for the increased levels and prolonged half-life of Numb protein in this cell line, mdm2-small interfering RNA (siRNA) was employed to inhibit mdm2 expression. Compared to cells transfected with scrambled siRNA (negative control), transfection with mdm2-siRNA increased basal Numb protein expression but abolished the further increase in Numb protein levels by nandrolone. In addition, transfection of mdm2-siRNA mimicked the effect of nandrolone to prolong the half-life of Numb protein. Moreover, when C2C12 cells were forced to overexpress mdm2, there was a significant decline in the expression of both basal and inducible Numb protein. Our data suggest that nandrolone, by a novel mechanism for this agent in a muscle cell type, increases Numb protein levels in C2C12 myoblasts by stabilizing Numb protein against degradation, at least in part, via suppression of mdm2 expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1216-1223
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Andrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012


  • Androgen receptor
  • Notch signaling
  • Skeleton muscle


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