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1.  Transcriptional Network Analysis in Muscle Reveals AP-1 as a Partner of PGC-1α in the Regulation of the Hypoxic Gene Program 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;34(16):2996-3012.
Skeletal muscle tissue shows an extraordinary cellular plasticity, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are still poorly understood. Here, we use a combination of experimental and computational approaches to unravel the complex transcriptional network of muscle cell plasticity centered on the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), a regulatory nexus in endurance training adaptation. By integrating data on genome-wide binding of PGC-1α and gene expression upon PGC-1α overexpression with comprehensive computational prediction of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs), we uncover a hitherto-underestimated number of transcription factor partners involved in mediating PGC-1α action. In particular, principal component analysis of TFBSs at PGC-1α binding regions predicts that, besides the well-known role of the estrogen-related receptor α (ERRα), the activator protein 1 complex (AP-1) plays a major role in regulating the PGC-1α-controlled gene program of the hypoxia response. Our findings thus reveal the complex transcriptional network of muscle cell plasticity controlled by PGC-1α.
PMCID: PMC4135604  PMID: 24912679
2.  The Corepressor NCoR1 Antagonizes PGC-1α and Estrogen-Related Receptor α in the Regulation of Skeletal Muscle Function and Oxidative Metabolism 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(24):4913-4924.
Skeletal muscle exhibits a high plasticity and accordingly can quickly adapt to different physiological and pathological stimuli by changing its phenotype largely through diverse epigenetic mechanisms. The nuclear receptor corepressor 1 (NCoR1) has the ability to mediate gene repression; however, its role in regulating biological programs in skeletal muscle is still poorly understood. We therefore studied the mechanistic and functional aspects of NCoR1 function in this tissue. NCoR1 muscle-specific knockout mice exhibited a 7.2% higher peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak), a 11% reduction in maximal isometric force, and increased ex vivo fatigue resistance during maximal stimulation. Interestingly, global gene expression analysis revealed a high overlap between the effects of NCoR1 deletion and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) overexpression on oxidative metabolism in muscle. Importantly, PPARβ/δ and estrogen-related receptor α (ERRα) were identified as common targets of NCoR1 and PGC-1α with opposing effects on the transcriptional activity of these nuclear receptors. In fact, the repressive effect of NCoR1 on oxidative phosphorylation gene expression specifically antagonizes PGC-1α-mediated coactivation of ERRα. We therefore delineated the molecular mechanism by which a transcriptional network controlled by corepressor and coactivator proteins determines the metabolic properties of skeletal muscle, thus representing a potential therapeutic target for metabolic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3510532  PMID: 23028049
3.  PGC-1α Determines Light Damage Susceptibility of the Murine Retina 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31272.
The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1 (PGC-1) proteins are key regulators of cellular bioenergetics and are accordingly expressed in tissues with a high energetic demand. For example, PGC-1α and PGC-1β control organ function of brown adipose tissue, heart, brain, liver and skeletal muscle. Surprisingly, despite their prominent role in the control of mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative metabolism, expression and function of the PGC-1 coactivators in the retina, an organ with one of the highest energy demands per tissue weight, are completely unknown. Moreover, the molecular mechanisms that coordinate energy production with repair processes in the damaged retina remain enigmatic. In the present study, we thus investigated the expression and function of the PGC-1 coactivators in the healthy and the damaged retina. We show that PGC-1α and PGC-1β are found at high levels in different structures of the mouse retina, most prominently in the photoreceptors. Furthermore, PGC-1α knockout mice suffer from a striking deterioration in retinal morphology and function upon detrimental light exposure. Gene expression studies revealed dysregulation of all major pathways involved in retinal damage and apoptosis, repair and renewal in the PGC-1α knockouts. The light-induced increase in apoptosis in vivo in the absence of PGC-1α was substantiated in vitro, where overexpression of PGC-1α evoked strong anti-apoptotic effects. Finally, we found that retinal levels of PGC-1 expression are reduced in different mouse models for retinitis pigmentosa. We demonstrate that PGC-1α is a central coordinator of energy production and, importantly, all of the major processes involved in retinal damage and subsequent repair. Together with the observed dysregulation of PGC-1α and PGC-1β in retinitis pigmentosa mouse models, these findings thus imply that PGC-1α might be an attractive target for therapeutic approaches aimed at retinal degeneration diseases.
PMCID: PMC3278422  PMID: 22348062

Results 1-3 (3)