Regulation of Brown and White Adipocyte Transcriptome by the Transcriptional Coactivator NT-PGC-1α

Jihyun Kim, Vivian E Fernand, Tara M Henagan, Jeho Shin, Peter Huypens, Susan Newman, Thomas W Gettys, Ji Suk Chang
PloS One 2016, 11 (7): e0159990
The β3-adrenergic receptor (AR) signaling pathway is a major component of adaptive thermogenesis in brown and white adipose tissue during cold acclimation. The β3-AR signaling highly induces the expression of transcriptional coactivator PGC-1α and its splice variant N-terminal (NT)-PGC-1α, which in turn activate the transcription program of adaptive thermogenesis by co-activating a number of transcription factors. We previously reported that NT-PGC-1α is able to increase mitochondrial number and activity in cultured brown adipocytes by promoting the expression of mitochondrial and thermogenic genes. In the present study, we performed genome-wide profiling of NT-PGC-1α-responsive genes in brown adipocytes to identify genes potentially regulated by NT-PGC-1α. Canonical pathway analysis revealed that a number of genes upregulated by NT-PGC-1α are highly enriched in mitochondrial pathways including fatty acid transport and β-oxidation, TCA cycle and electron transport system, thus reinforcing the crucial role of NT-PGC-1α in the enhancement of mitochondrial function. Moreover, canonical pathway analysis of NT-PGC-1α-responsive genes identified several metabolic pathways including glycolysis and fatty acid synthesis. In order to validate the identified genes in vivo, we utilized the FL-PGC-1α-/- mouse that is deficient in full-length PGC-1α (FL-PGC-1α) but expresses a slightly shorter and functionally equivalent form of NT-PGC-1α (NT-PGC-1α254). The β3-AR-induced increase of NT-PGC-1α254 in FL-PGC-1α-/- brown and white adipose tissue was closely associated with elevated expression of genes involved in thermogenesis, mitochondrial oxidative metabolism, glycolysis and fatty acid synthesis. Increased adipose tissue thermogenesis by β3-AR activation resulted in attenuation of adipose tissue expansion in FL-PGC-1α-/- adipose tissue under the high-fat diet condition. Together, the data strengthen our previous findings that NT-PGC-1α regulates mitochondrial genes involved in thermogenesis and oxidative metabolism in brown and white adipocytes and further suggest that NT-PGC-1α regulates a broad spectrum of genes to meet cellular needs for adaptive thermogenesis.

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