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.


Kim J, Fernand VE, Henagan TM, Shin J, Huypens P, Newman S, et al. (2016) Regulation of Brown and White Adipocyte Transcriptome by the Transcriptional Coactivator NT-PGC-1α. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0159990. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159990

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Adipocyte Transcriptome, NT-PGC-1α

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