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1.  HIF-1α regulates the response of primary sarcomas to radiation therapy through a cell autonomous mechanism 
Radiation research  2015;183(6):594-609.
Hypoxia is a major cause of radiation resistance, which may predispose to local recurrence after radiation therapy (RT). While hypoxia increases tumor cell survival after RT because there is less oxygen to oxidize damaged DNA, whether signaling pathways triggered by hypoxia contribute to radiation resistance is poorly understood. For example, intratumoral hypoxia can increase hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α), which may regulate pathways that contribute to radiation sensitization or radiation resistance. To clarify the role of HIF-1α in regulating tumor response to radiation therapy, we generated a novel genetically engineered mouse model of soft tissue sarcoma with an intact or deleted HIF-1α. Deletion of HIF-1α sensitized primary sarcomas to RT in vivo. Moreover, cell lines derived from primary sarcomas lacking HIF-1α, or in which HIF-1α was knocked down, had decreased clonogenic survival in vitro, demonstrating that HIF-1α can promote radiation resistance in a cell autonomous manner. In HIF-1α intact and deleted sarcoma cells, radiation-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS), DNA damage repair, and activation of autophagy were similar. However, sarcoma cells lacking HIF-1α had impaired mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolic response after radiation which might contribute to radiation resistance. These results show that HIF-1α promotes radiation resistance in a cell autonomous manner.
PMCID: PMC4800000  PMID: 25973951
2.  Impact of combined resistance and aerobic exercise training on branched-chain amino acid turnover, glycine metabolism and insulin sensitivity in overweight humans 
Diabetologia  2015;58(10):2324-2335.
Obesity is associated with decreased insulin sensitivity (IS) and elevated plasma branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between BCAA metabolism and IS in overweight (OW) individuals during exercise intervention.
Whole-body leucine turnover, IS by hyperinsulinaemic–euglycaemic clamp, and circulating and skeletal muscle amino acids, branched-chain α-keto acids and acylcarnitines were measured in ten healthy controls (Control) and nine OW, untrained, insulin-resistant individuals (OW-Untrained). OW-Untrained then underwent a 6 month aerobic and resistance exercise programme and repeated testing (OW-Trained).
IS was higher in Control vs OW-Untrained and increased significantly following exercise. IS was lower in OW-Trained vs Control expressed relative to body mass, but was not different from Control when normalised to fat-free mass (FFM). Plasma BCAAs and leucine turnover (relative to FFM) were higher in OW-Untrained vs Control, but did not change on average with exercise. Despite this, within individuals, the decrease in molar sum of circulating BCAAs was the best metabolic predictor of improvement in IS. Circulating glycine levels were higher in Control and OW-Trained vs OW-Untrained, and urinary metabolic profiling suggests that exercise induces more efficient elimination of excess acyl groups derived from BCAA and aromatic amino acid (AA) metabolism via formation of urinary glycine adducts.
A mechanism involving more efficient elimination of excess acyl groups derived from BCAA and aromatic AA metabolism via glycine conjugation in the liver, rather than increased BCAA disposal through oxidation and turnover, may mediate interactions between exercise, BCAA metabolism and IS.
Trial registration NCT01786941
PMCID: PMC4793723  PMID: 26254576
Branched-chain amino acids; Exercise; Insulin resistance; Metabolomics; Obesity; Protein
3.  Neuronal CRTC-1 governs systemic mitochondrial metabolism and lifespan via a catecholamine signal 
Cell  2015;160(5):842-855.
Low energy states delay aging in multiple species, yet mechanisms coordinating energetics and longevity across tissues remain poorly defined. The conserved energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and its corresponding phosphatase calcineurin modulate longevity via the CREB regulated transcriptional coactivator (CRTC)-1 in C. elegans. We show that CRTC-1 specifically uncouples AMPK/calcineurin-mediated effects on lifespan from pleiotropic side effects by reprogramming mitochondrial and metabolic function. This pro-longevity metabolic state is regulated cell-nonautonomously by CRTC-1 in the nervous system. Neuronal CRTC-1/CREB regulates peripheral metabolism antagonistically with the functional PPARα ortholog, NHR-49, drives mitochondrial fragmentation in distal tissues, and suppresses the effects of AMPK on systemic mitochondrial metabolism and longevity via a cell-nonautonomous catecholamine signal. These results demonstrate that while both local and distal mechanisms combine to modulate aging, distal regulation overrides local contribution. Targeting central perception of energetic state is therefore a potential strategy to promote healthy aging.
PMCID: PMC4392909  PMID: 25723162
4.  The Acetyl Group Buffering Action of Carnitine Acetyltransferase Offsets Macronutrient-induced Lysine Acetylation of Mitochondrial Proteins 
Cell reports  2015;14(2):243-254.
Lysine acetylation (AcK), a posttranslational modification wherein a two-carbon acetyl group binds covalently to a lysine residue, occurs prominently on mitochondrial proteins and has been linked to metabolic dysfunction. An emergent theory suggests mitochondrial AcK occurs via mass action rather than targeted catalysis. To test this hypothesis we performed mass spectrometry-based acetylproteomic analyses of quadriceps muscles from mice with skeletal muscle-specific deficiency of carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT), an enzyme that buffers the mitochondrial acetyl-CoA pool by converting short-chain acyl-CoAs to their membrane permeant acylcarnitine counterparts. CrAT deficiency increased tissue acetyl-CoA levels and susceptibility to diet-induced AcK of broad-ranging mitochondrial proteins, coincident with diminished whole body glucose control. Sub-compartment acetylproteome analyses of muscles from obese mice and humans showed remarkable overrepresentation of mitochondrial matrix proteins. These findings reveal roles for CrAT and L-carnitine in modulating the muscle acetylproteome and provide strong experimental evidence favoring the nonenzymatic carbon pressure model of mitochondrial AcK.
PMCID: PMC4754083  PMID: 26748706
5.  Metabolite signatures of exercise training in human skeletal muscle relate to mitochondrial remodelling and cardiometabolic fitness 
Diabetologia  2014;57(11):2282-2295.
Targeted metabolomic and transcriptomic approaches were used to evaluate the relationship between skeletal muscle metabolite signatures, gene expression profiles and clinical outcomes in response to various exercise training interventions. We hypothesised that changes in mitochondrial metabolic intermediates would predict improvements in clinical risk factors, thereby offering novel insights into potential mechanisms.
Subjects at risk of metabolic disease were randomised to six months of inactivity or one of five aerobic and/or resistance training programmes (n = 112). Pre/post-intervention assessments included cardiorespiratory fitness (V̇O2peak), serum triacylglycerols (TGs) and insulin sensitivity (SI). In this secondary analysis, muscle biopsy specimens were used for targeted mass spectrometry-based analysis of metabolic intermediates and measurement of mRNA expression of genes involved in metabolism.
Exercise regimens with the largest energy expenditure produced robust increases in muscle concentrations of even-chain acylcarnitines (median 37–488%), which correlated positively with increased expression of genes involved in muscle uptake and oxidation of fatty acids. Along with free carnitine, the aforementioned acylcarnitine metabolites were related to improvements in V̇O2peak, TGs and SI (R = 0.20–0.31, p < 0.05). Muscle concentrations of the tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates succinate and succinylcarnitine (R = 0.39 and 0.24, p < 0.05) emerged as the strongest correlates of SI.
The metabolic signatures of exercise-trained skeletal muscle reflected reprogramming of mitochondrial function and intermediary metabolism and correlated with changes in cardiometabolic fitness. Succinate metabolism and the succinate dehydrogenase complex emerged as a potential regulatory node that intersects with whole-body insulin sensitivity. This study identifies new avenues for mechanistic research aimed at understanding the health benefits of physical activity.
Trial registration NCT00200993 and NCT00275145
PMCID: PMC4182127  PMID: 25091629
Acylcarnitines; Branched-chain amino acids; Metabolomics; Physical activity; Skeletal muscle; Succinate
6.  Energy Metabolic Re-Programming in the Hypertrophied and Early Stage Failing Heart: A Multi-systems Approach 
Circulation. Heart failure  2014;7(6):1022-1031.
An unbiased systems approach was utilized to define energy metabolic events that occur during the pathologic cardiac remodeling en route to heart failure.
Methods and Results
Combined myocardial transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling were conducted in a well-defined mouse model of heart failure that allows comparative assessment of compensated and decompensated (heart failure) forms of cardiac hypertrophy due to pressure overload. The pressure overload datasets were also compared with the myocardial transcriptome and metabolome for an adaptive (physiological) form of cardiac hypertrophy due to endurance exercise training. Comparative analysis of the datasets led to the following conclusions: 1) expression of most genes involved in mitochondrial energy transduction were not significantly changed in the hypertrophied or failing heart, with the notable exception of a progressive downregulation of transcripts encoding proteins and enzymes involved in myocyte fatty acid transport and oxidation during the development of heart failure; 2) tissue metabolite profiles were more broadly regulated than corresponding metabolic gene regulatory changes, suggesting significant regulation at the post-transcriptional level; 3) metabolomic signatures distinguished pathologic and physiological forms of cardiac hypertrophy and served as robust markers for the onset of heart failure; and 4) the pattern of metabolite derangements in the failing heart suggests “bottlenecks” of carbon substrate flux into the Krebs cycle.
Mitochondrial energy metabolic derangements that occur during the early development of pressure overload-induced heart failure involve both transcriptional and post-transcriptional events. A subset of the myocardial metabolomic profile robustly distinguished pathologic and physiologic cardiac remodeling.
PMCID: PMC4241130  PMID: 25236884
transcriptomics; metabolomics; heart failure; energy metabolism; mitochondria
7.  Dynamic Metabolite Profiling in an Archaeon Connects Transcriptional Regulation to Metabolic Consequences 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0135693.
Previous work demonstrated that the TrmB transcription factor is responsible for regulating the expression of many enzyme-coding genes in the hypersaline-adapted archaeon Halobacterium salinarum via a direct interaction with a cis-regulatory sequence in their promoters. This interaction is abolished in the presence of glucose. Although much is known about the effects of TrmB at the transcriptional level, it remains unclear whether and to what extent changes in mRNA levels directly affect metabolite levels. In order to address this question, here we performed a high-resolution metabolite profiling time course during a change in nutrients using a combination of targeted and untargeted methods in wild-type and ΔtrmB strain backgrounds. We found that TrmB-mediated transcriptional changes resulted in widespread and significant changes to metabolite levels across the metabolic network. Additionally, the pattern of growth complementation using various purines suggests that the mis-regulation of gluconeogenesis in the ΔtrmB mutant strain in the absence of glucose results in low phosphoribosylpyrophosphate (PRPP) levels. We confirmed these low PRPP levels using a quantitative mass spectrometric technique and found that they are associated with a metabolic block in de novo purine synthesis, which is partially responsible for the growth defect of the ΔtrmB mutant strain in the absence of glucose. In conclusion, we show how transcriptional regulation of metabolism affects metabolite levels and ultimately, phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC4540570  PMID: 26284786
8.  Androgens Regulate Prostate Cancer Cell Growth via an AMPK-PGC-1α-Mediated Metabolic Switch 
Oncogene  2013;33(45):5251-5261.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy among men in industrialized countries, accounting for the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. While we now know that the androgen receptor (AR) is important for progression to the deadly advanced stages of the disease, it is poorly understood what AR-regulated processes drive this pathology. Here, we demonstrate that AR regulates prostate cancer cell growth via the metabolic sensor 5′-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a kinase that classically regulates cellular energy homeostasis. In patients, activation of AMPK correlated with prostate cancer progression. Using a combination of radiolabeled assays and emerging metabolomic approaches, we also show that prostate cancer cells respond to androgen treatment by increasing not only rates of glycolysis, as is commonly seen in many cancers, but also glucose and fatty acid oxidation. Importantly, this effect was dependent on androgen-mediated AMPK activity. Our results further indicate that the AMPK-mediated metabolic changes increased intracellular ATP levels and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α)-mediated mitochondrial biogenesis, affording distinct growth advantages to the prostate cancer cells. Correspondingly, we used outlier analysis to determine that PGC-1α is overexpressed in a subpopulation of clinical cancer samples. This was in contrast to what was observed in immortalized benign human prostate cells and a testosterone-induced rat model of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Taken together, our findings converge to demonstrate that androgens can co-opt the AMPK-PGC-1α signaling cascade, a known homeostatic mechanism, to increase prostate cancer cell growth. The current study points to the potential utility of developing metabolic-targeted therapies directed towards the AMPK-PGC-1α signaling axis for the treatment of prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC4009392  PMID: 24186207
androgen receptor; prostate cancer; AMP-activated protein kinase; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α; metabolism
9.  Lysine Glutarylation Is a Protein Post-Translational Modification Regulated by SIRT5 
Cell metabolism  2014;19(4):605-617.
We report the identification and characterization of a five-carbon protein post-translational modification (PTM) called lysine glutarylation (Kglu). This protein modification was detected by immunoblot and mass spectrometry (MS), and then comprehensively validated by chemical and biochemical methods. We demonstrated that the previously annotated deacetylase, sirtuin 5 (SIRT5), is a lysine deglutarylase. Proteome-wide analysis identified 683 Kglu sites in 191 proteins and showed Kglu is highly enriched on metabolic enzymes and mitochondrial proteins. We validated carbamoyl phosphate synthase 1 (CPS1), the rate-limiting enzyme in urea cycle, as a glutarylated protein and demonstrated that CPS1 is targeted by SIRT5 for deglutarylation. We further showed that glutarylation suppresses CPS1 enzymatic activity in cell lines, mice, and a model of glutaric academia type I disease, the last of which has elevated glutaric acid and glutaryl-CoA. This study expands the landscape of lysine acyl modifications and increases our understanding of the deacylase SIRT5.
PMCID: PMC4108075  PMID: 24703693
Acylation; lysine acetylation; lysine succinylation; lysine glutarylation; glutaryl-CoA; mass spectrometry; protein post-translational modification; SIRT5; succinyl-CoA
10.  SIRT5 regulates the mitochondrial lysine succinylome and metabolic networks 
Cell metabolism  2013;18(6):920-933.
Reversible posttranslational modifications are emerging as critical regulators of mitochondrial proteins and metabolism. Here, we use a label-free quantitative proteomic approach to characterize the lysine succinylome in liver mitochondria and its regulation by the desuccinylase SIRT5. A total of 1190 unique sites were identified as succinylated, and 386 sites across 140 proteins representing several metabolic pathways including β-oxidation and ketogenesis were significantly hypersuccinylated in Sirt5−/− animals. Loss of SIRT5 leads to accumulation of medium- and long-chain acylcarnitines and decreased β-hydroxybutyrate production in vivo. In addition, we demonstrate that SIRT5 regulates succinylation of the rate-limiting ketogenic enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase 2 (HMGCS2) both in vivo and in vitro. Finally, mutation of hypersuccinylated residues K83 and K310 on HMGCS2 to glutamic acid strongly inhibits enzymatic activity. Taken together, these findings establish SIRT5 as a global regulator of lysine succinylation in mitochondria and present a mechanism for inhibition of ketogenesis through HMGCS2.
PMCID: PMC4105152  PMID: 24315375
11.  Phosphoproteomic Profiling of Human Myocardial Tissues Distinguishes Ischemic from Non-Ischemic End Stage Heart Failure 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104157.
The molecular differences between ischemic (IF) and non-ischemic (NIF) heart failure are poorly defined. A better understanding of the molecular differences between these two heart failure etiologies may lead to the development of more effective heart failure therapeutics. In this study extensive proteomic and phosphoproteomic profiles of myocardial tissue from patients diagnosed with IF or NIF were assembled and compared.
Proteins extracted from left ventricular sections were proteolyzed and phosphopeptides were enriched using titanium dioxide resin. Gel- and label-free nanoscale capillary liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution accuracy mass tandem mass spectrometry allowed for the quantification of 4,436 peptides (corresponding to 450 proteins) and 823 phosphopeptides (corresponding to 400 proteins) from the unenriched and phospho-enriched fractions, respectively.
Protein abundance did not distinguish NIF from IF. In contrast, 37 peptides (corresponding to 26 proteins) exhibited a ≥2-fold alteration in phosphorylation state (p<0.05) when comparing IF and NIF. The degree of protein phosphorylation at these 37 sites was specifically dependent upon the heart failure etiology examined. Proteins exhibiting phosphorylation alterations were grouped into functional categories: transcriptional activation/RNA processing; cytoskeleton structure/function; molecular chaperones; cell adhesion/signaling; apoptosis; and energetic/metabolism.
Phosphoproteomic analysis demonstrated profound post-translational differences in proteins that are involved in multiple cellular processes between different heart failure phenotypes. Understanding the roles these phosphorylation alterations play in the development of NIF and IF has the potential to generate etiology-specific heart failure therapeutics, which could be more effective than current therapeutics in addressing the growing concern of heart failure.
PMCID: PMC4130503  PMID: 25117565
13.  Adipose-Specific Deletion of TFAM Increases Mitochondrial Oxidation and Protects Mice against Obesity and Insulin Resistance 
Cell metabolism  2012;16(6):765-776.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in adipose tissue, but the role for adipose tissues mitochondria in the development of these disorders is currently unknown. To understand the impact of adipose tissue mitochondria on whole body metabolism, we have generated a mouse model with disruption of the mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) specifically in fat. F-TFKO adipose tissue exhibit decreased mtDNA copy number, altered levels of proteins of the electron transport chain, and perturbed mitochondrial function with decreased Complex I activity and greater oxygen consumption and uncoupling. As a result, F-TFKO mice exhibit higher energy expenditure and are protected from age- and diet-induced obesity, insulin resistance and hepatosteatosis, despite a greater food intake. Thus, TFAM deletion in the adipose tissue increases mitochondrial oxidation that has positive metabolic effects suggesting that regulation of adipose tissue mitochondria may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity.
PMCID: PMC3529641  PMID: 23168219
Obesity; Brown adipose tissue; Mitochondrial function; mitochondrial bioenergetics; White adipose tissue; Insulin resistance; Diabetes
14.  Skeletal muscle Nur77 expression enhances oxidative metabolism and substrate utilization[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2012;53(12):2610-2619.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Identifying novel regulators of mitochondrial bioenergetics will broaden our understanding of regulatory checkpoints that coordinate complex metabolic pathways. We previously showed that Nur77, an orphan nuclear receptor of the NR4A family, regulates the expression of genes linked to glucose utilization. Here we demonstrate that expression of Nur77 in skeletal muscle also enhances mitochondrial function. We generated MCK-Nur77 transgenic mice that express wild-type Nur77 specifically in skeletal muscle. Nur77-overexpressing muscle had increased abundance of oxidative muscle fibers and mitochondrial DNA content. Transgenic muscle also exhibited enhanced oxidative metabolism, suggestive of increased mitochondrial activity. Metabolomic analysis confirmed that Nur77 transgenic muscle favored fatty acid oxidation over glucose oxidation, mimicking the metabolic profile of fasting. Nur77 expression also improved the intrinsic respiratory capacity of isolated mitochondria, likely due to the increased abundance of complex I of the electron transport chain. These changes in mitochondrial metabolism translated to improved muscle contractile function ex vivo and improved cold tolerance in vivo. Our studies outline a novel role for Nur77 in the regulation of oxidative metabolism and mitochondrial activity in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC3494265  PMID: 23028113
Nr4a; nuclear receptor; mitochondria
15.  Muscle-specific Deletion of Carnitine Acetyltransferase Compromises Glucose Tolerance and Metabolic Flexibility 
Cell Metabolism  2012;15(5):764-777.
The concept of “metabolic inflexibility” was first introduced to describe the failure of insulin resistant human subjects to appropriately adjust mitochondrial fuel selection in response to nutritional cues. This phenomenon has since gained increasing recognition as a core component of the metabolic syndrome, but the underlying mechanisms have remained elusive. Here, we identify an essential role for the mitochondrial matrix enzyme, carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT), in regulating substrate switching and glucose tolerance. By converting acetyl-CoA to its membrane permeant acetylcarnitine ester, CrAT regulates mitochondrial and intracellular carbon trafficking. Studies in muscle-specific Crat knockout mice, primary human skeletal myocytes and human subjects undergoing L-carnitine supplementation support a model wherein CrAT combats nutrient stress, promotes metabolic flexibility and enhances insulin action by permitting mitochondrial efflux of excess acetyl moieties that otherwise inhibit key regulatory enzymes such as pyruvate dehydrogenase. These findings offer therapeutically relevant insights into the molecular basis of metabolic inflexibility.
PMCID: PMC3348515  PMID: 22560225
16.  Mig-6 Plays a Critical Role in the Regulation of Cholesterol Homeostasis and Bile Acid Synthesis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42915.
The disruption of cholesterol homeostasis leads to an increase in cholesterol levels which results in the development of cardiovascular disease. Mitogen Inducible Gene 6 (Mig-6) is an immediate early response gene that can be induced by various mitogens, stresses, and hormones. To identify the metabolic role of Mig-6 in the liver, we conditionally ablated Mig-6 in the liver using the Albumin-Cre mouse model (Albcre/+Mig-6f/f; Mig-6d/d). Mig-6d/d mice exhibit hepatomegaly and fatty liver. Serum levels of total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol and hepatic lipid were significantly increased in the Mig-6d/d mice. The daily excretion of fecal bile acids was significantly decreased in the Mig-6d/d mice. DNA microarray analysis of mRNA isolated from the livers of these mice showed alterations in genes that regulate lipid metabolism, bile acid, and cholesterol synthesis, while the expression of genes that regulate biliary excretion of bile acid and triglyceride synthesis showed no difference in the Mig-6d/d mice compared to Mig-6f/f controls. These results indicate that Mig-6 plays an important role in cholesterol homeostasis and bile acid synthesis. Mice with liver specific conditional ablation of Mig-6 develop hepatomegaly and increased intrahepatic lipid and provide a novel model system to investigate the genetic and molecular events involved in the regulation of cholesterol homeostasis and bile acid synthesis. Defining the molecular mechanisms by which Mig-6 regulates cholesterol homeostasis will provide new insights into the development of more effective ways for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3422237  PMID: 22912762
17.  Metabolomic Profiling Reveals Mitochondrial-Derived Lipid Biomarkers That Drive Obesity-Associated Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38812.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. Several animal models of obesity exist, but studies are lacking that compare traditional lard-based high fat diets (HFD) to “Cafeteria diets" (CAF) consisting of nutrient poor human junk food. Our previous work demonstrated the rapid and severe obesogenic and inflammatory consequences of CAF compared to HFD including rapid weight gain, markers of Metabolic Syndrome, multi-tissue lipid accumulation, and dramatic inflammation. To identify potential mediators of CAF-induced obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, we used metabolomic analysis to profile serum, muscle, and white adipose from rats fed CAF, HFD, or standard control diets. Principle component analysis identified elevations in clusters of fatty acids and acylcarnitines. These increases in metabolites were associated with systemic mitochondrial dysfunction that paralleled weight gain, physiologic measures of Metabolic Syndrome, and tissue inflammation in CAF-fed rats. Spearman pairwise correlations between metabolites, physiologic, and histologic findings revealed strong correlations between elevated markers of inflammation in CAF-fed animals, measured as crown like structures in adipose, and specifically the pro-inflammatory saturated fatty acids and oxidation intermediates laurate and lauroyl carnitine. Treatment of bone marrow-derived macrophages with lauroyl carnitine polarized macrophages towards the M1 pro-inflammatory phenotype through downregulation of AMPK and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Results presented herein demonstrate that compared to a traditional HFD model, the CAF diet provides a robust model for diet-induced human obesity, which models Metabolic Syndrome-related mitochondrial dysfunction in serum, muscle, and adipose, along with pro-inflammatory metabolite alterations. These data also suggest that modifying the availability or metabolism of saturated fatty acids may limit the inflammation associated with obesity leading to Metabolic Syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3373493  PMID: 22701716
18.  The Coactivator SRC-1 is an Essential Coordinator of Hepatic Glucose Production 
Cell metabolism  2010;12(6):606-618.
Gluconeogenesis makes a major contribution to hepatic glucose production, a process critical for survival in mammals. In this study, we identify the p160 family member, SRC-1, as a key coordinator of the hepatic gluconeogenic program in vivo. SRC-1 null mice displayed hypoglycemia secondary to a deficit in hepatic glucose production. Selective re-expression of SRC-1 in the liver restored blood glucose levels to a normal range. SRC-1 was found induced upon fasting to coordinate in a cell-autonomous manner, the gene expression of rate-limiting enzymes of the gluconeogenic pathway. At the molecular level, the main role of SRC-1 was to modulate the expression and the activity of C/EBPα through a feed-forward loop in which SRC-1 used C/EBPα to transactivate pyruvate carboxylase, a crucial gene for initiation of the gluconeogenic program. We propose that SRC-1, acts as a novel and critical mediator of glucose homeostasis in the liver by adjusting the transcriptional activity of key genes involved in the hepatic glucose production machinery.
PMCID: PMC3024581  PMID: 21109193
19.  Regulation of mitochondrial morphology by APC/CCdh1-mediated control of Drp1 stability 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(8):1207-1216.
Mitochondria form an interconnected network that undergoes dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1)-dependent fission during mitosis. We demonstrate that changes in mitochondrial dynamics as cells exit mitosis are driven through ubiquitylation of Drp1 by the (anaphase- promoting complex/cyclosome and its coactivator Cdh1) APC/CCdh1 complex. Inhibition Drp1 degradation prevents the normal regrowth of mitochondrial networks during G1 phase.
Homeostatic maintenance of cellular mitochondria requires a dynamic balance between fission and fusion, and controlled changes in morphology are important for processes such as apoptosis and cellular division. Interphase mitochondria have been described as an interconnected network that fragments as cells enter mitosis, and this mitotic mitochondrial fragmentation is known to be regulated by the dynamin-related GTPase Drp1 (dynamin-related protein 1), a key component of the mitochondrial division machinery. Loss of Drp1 function and the subsequent failure of mitochondrial division during mitosis lead to incomplete cytokinesis and the unequal distribution of mitochondria into daughter cells. During mitotic exit and interphase, the mitochondrial network reforms. Here we demonstrate that changes in mitochondrial dynamics as cells exit mitosis are driven in part through ubiquitylation of Drp1, catalyzed by the APC/CCdh1 (anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome and its coactivator Cdh1) E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. Importantly, inhibition of Cdh1-mediated Drp1 ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation during interphase prevents the normal G1 phase regrowth of mitochondrial networks following cell division.
PMCID: PMC3078078  PMID: 21325626
20.  Insulin Resistance and Altered Systemic Glucose Metabolism in Mice Lacking Nur77 
Diabetes  2009;58(12):2788-2796.
Nur77 is an orphan nuclear receptor with pleotropic functions. Previous studies have identified Nur77 as a transcriptional regulator of glucose utilization genes in skeletal muscle and gluconeogenesis in liver. However, the net functional impact of these pathways is unknown. To examine the consequence of Nur77 signaling for glucose metabolism in vivo, we challenged Nur77 null mice with high-fat feeding.
Wild-type and Nur77 null mice were fed a high-fat diet (60% calories from fat) for 3 months. We determined glucose tolerance, tissue-specific insulin sensitivity, oxygen consumption, muscle and liver lipid content, muscle insulin signaling, and expression of glucose and lipid metabolism genes.
Mice with genetic deletion of Nur77 exhibited increased susceptibility to diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp studies revealed greater high-fat diet–induced insulin resistance in both skeletal muscle and liver of Nur77 null mice compared with controls. Loss of Nur77 expression in skeletal muscle impaired insulin signaling and markedly reduced GLUT4 protein expression. Muscles lacking Nur77 also exhibited increased triglyceride content and accumulation of multiple even-chained acylcarnitine species. In the liver, Nur77 deletion led to hepatic steatosis and enhanced expression of lipogenic genes, likely reflecting the lipogenic effect of hyperinsulinemia.
Collectively, these data demonstrate that loss of Nur77 influences systemic glucose metabolism and highlight the physiological contribution of muscle Nur77 to this regulatory pathway.
PMCID: PMC2780886  PMID: 19741162
21.  SIRT3 regulates fatty acid oxidation via reversible enzyme deacetylation 
Nature  2010;464(7285):121-125.
Sirtuins are NAD+-dependent protein deacetylases and mediate adaptive responses to a variety of stresses, including calorie restriction and metabolic stress. Sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) is localized in the mitochondrial matrix where it regulates the acetylation levels of metabolic enzymes, including acetyl coenzyme A synthetase 21,2. Mice lacking both SIRT3 alleles appear phenotypically normal under basal conditions, but show marked hyperacetylation of several mitochondrial proteins3. We report that SIRT3 expression is upregulated during fasting in liver and brown adipose tissues. Livers from mice lacking SIRT3 show higher levels of fatty acid oxidation intermediate products and triglycerides during fasting associated with decreased levels of fatty acid oxidation when compared to wild-type mice. Mass spectrometry analysis of mitochondrial proteins shows that long-chain acyl CoA dehydrogenase (LCAD) is hyperacetylated at lysine 42 in the absence of SIRT3. LCAD is deacetylated in wild-type mice under fasted conditions and by SIRT3 in vitro and in vivo, and hyperacetylation of LCAD reduces its enzymatic activity. Mice lacking SIRT3 exhibit hallmarks of fatty acid oxidation disorders during fasting including reduced ATP levels and intolerance to cold exposure. These findings identify acetylation as a novel regulatory mechanism for mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation and demonstrate that SIRT3 modulates mitochondrial intermediary metabolism and fatty acid utilization during fasting.
PMCID: PMC2841477  PMID: 20203611
23.  Genetic Networks of Liver Metabolism Revealed by Integration of Metabolic and Transcriptional Profiling 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(3):e1000034.
Although numerous quantitative trait loci (QTL) influencing disease-related phenotypes have been detected through gene mapping and positional cloning, identification of the individual gene(s) and molecular pathways leading to those phenotypes is often elusive. One way to improve understanding of genetic architecture is to classify phenotypes in greater depth by including transcriptional and metabolic profiling. In the current study, we have generated and analyzed mRNA expression and metabolic profiles in liver samples obtained in an F2 intercross between the diabetes-resistant C57BL/6 leptinob/ob and the diabetes-susceptible BTBR leptinob/ob mouse strains. This cross, which segregates for genotype and physiological traits, was previously used to identify several diabetes-related QTL. Our current investigation includes microarray analysis of over 40,000 probe sets, plus quantitative mass spectrometry-based measurements of sixty-seven intermediary metabolites in three different classes (amino acids, organic acids, and acyl-carnitines). We show that liver metabolites map to distinct genetic regions, thereby indicating that tissue metabolites are heritable. We also demonstrate that genomic analysis can be integrated with liver mRNA expression and metabolite profiling data to construct causal networks for control of specific metabolic processes in liver. As a proof of principle of the practical significance of this integrative approach, we illustrate the construction of a specific causal network that links gene expression and metabolic changes in the context of glutamate metabolism, and demonstrate its validity by showing that genes in the network respond to changes in glutamine and glutamate availability. Thus, the methods described here have the potential to reveal regulatory networks that contribute to chronic, complex, and highly prevalent diseases and conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
Author Summary
Although numerous quantitative trait loci (QTL) influencing disease-related phenotypes have been detected through gene mapping and positional cloning, identifying individual genes and their potential roles in molecular pathways leading to disease remains a challenge. In this study, we include transcriptional and metabolic profiling in genomic analyses to address this limitation. We investigated an F2 intercross between the diabetes-resistant C57BL/6 leptinob/ob and the diabetes-susceptible BTBR leptinob/ob mouse strains that segregates for genotype and diabetes-related physiological traits; blood glucose, plasma insulin and body weight. Our study shows that liver metabolites (comprised of amino acids, organic acids, and acyl-carnitines) map to distinct genetic regions, thereby indicating that tissue metabolites are heritable. We also demonstrate that genomic analysis can be integrated with liver mRNA expression and metabolite profiling data to construct causal, testable networks for control of specific metabolic processes in liver. We apply an in vitro study to confirm the validity of this integrative method, and thus provide a novel approach to reveal regulatory networks that contribute to chronic, complex, and highly prevalent diseases and conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2265422  PMID: 18369453
24.  Chemical Knockout of Pantothenate Kinase Reveals the Metabolic and Genetic Program Responsible for Hepatic Coenzyme A Homeostasis 
Chemistry & biology  2007;14(3):291-302.
Coenzyme A (CoA) is the major acyl group carrier in intermediary metabolism. Hopantenate (HoPan), a competitive inhibitor of the pantothenate kinases, was used to chemically antagonize CoA biosynthesis. HoPan dramatically reduced liver CoA levels and the mice developed severe hypoglycemia. Insulin and corticosterone levels were reduced, glucagon levels were elevated in HoPan-treated mice and fasting accelerated the HoPan-induced hypoglycemia. Metabolic profiling revealed a large increase in carnitine, particularly acetylcarnitine, illustrating the role of carnitine in buffering acyl groups to maintain the unesterified CoASH level. HoPan treatment triggered significant changes in hepatic gene expression that substantially increased the thioesterases, which liberate CoASH from acyl-CoA, and increased pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1, which prevents the conversion of CoASH to acetyl-CoA. These results identify the metabolic re-arrangements that maintain the CoASH pool which is critical to mitochondrial functions, including gluconeogenesis, fatty acid oxidation, and the tricarboxylic acid and urea cycles.
PMCID: PMC1892532  PMID: 17379144

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