Alpha-actinins are an ancient family of actin-binding proteins that play structural and regulatory roles in cytoskeletal organization. In skeletal muscle, α-actinin-3 protein is an important structural component of the Z disc, where it anchors actin thin filaments, helping to maintain the myofibrillar array. A common nonsense polymorphism in codon 577 of the ACTN3 gene (R577X) results in α-actinin-3 deficiency in XX homozygotes. Based on knowledge about the role of ACTN3 R557X polymorphism in skeletal muscle function, we postulated that the genetic polymorphism of ACTN3 could also improve sprint and power ability.
We compared genotypic and allelic frequencies of the ACTN3 R557X polymorphism in two groups of men of the same Caucasian descent: 158 power-orientated athletes and 254 volunteers not involved in competitive sport.
The genotype distribution in the group of power-oriented athletes showed significant differences (P=0.008) compared to controls. However, among the investigated subgroups of athletes, only the difference of ACTN3 R577X genotype between sprinters and controls reached statistical significance (P=0.041). The frequencies of the ACTN3 577X allele (30.69% vs. 40.35%; P=0.005) were significantly different in all athletes compared to controls. Our results support the hypothesis that the ACTN3 577XX allele may have some beneficial effect on sprintpower performance, because the ACTN3 XX genotype is significantly reduced in Polish power-oriented athletes compared to controls.
This finding seems to be in agreement with previously reported case-control studies. However, ACTN3 polymorphism as a genetic marker for sport talent identification should be interpreted with great caution.
Ahmetov II, Druzhevskaya AM, Astratenkova IV, Popov DV, Vinogradova OL, Rogozkin VA. The ACTN3 R577X polymorphism in Russian endurance athletes. Br J Sports Med. 2010, 44:649-652.
Beggs AH, Byers TJ, Knoll JH, Boyce FM, Bruns GA, Kunkel LM. Cloning and characterization of two human skeletal muscle alpha-actinin genes located on chromosomes 1 and 11. J Biol Chem. 1992, 267:9281-9288.
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