ACTN3 and Muscle Performance

Tuesday, August 27, 2019. Author FitnessGenes

ACTN3 and Muscle Performance

ACTN3 is the famous “gene for speed”. 

It codes for a protein called alpha-actinin-3, which supports high-velocity, forceful contraction of fast-twitch (Type II) muscle fibers. 

One variant of the ACTN3 gene, the R allele, results in production of the alpha-actinin-3 protein and is significantly more common in strength, power and sprint athletes – hence the “gene for speed” moniker.

By contrast, people carrying two copies of the X allele / variant do not produce any alpha-actinin 3 protein at all. Approximately 18% of the global population fall into this group, who we term as having alpha-actinin 3 deficiency

While it has no negative health effects, alpha-actinin 3 deficiency is thought to be a disadvantage when it comes to elite athletic performance in sprint and power events. On the plus side, burgeoning evidence suggests that alpha-actinin 3 deficiency may be advantageous for longer-duration endurance exercise. 

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