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Coordinated balancing of muscle oxidative metabolism through PGC-1α increases metabolic flexibility and preserves insulin sensitivity

Summermatter, Serge, Troxler, Heinz, Santos, Gesa, Handschin, Christoph
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2011 v.408 no.1 pp. 180-185
aerobiosis, diet, glucose, homeostasis, insulin, insulin resistance, lipid peroxidation, metabolites, mice, multigene family, muscles, oxidation, oxidative phosphorylation, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, skeletal muscle, transcription (genetics)
The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) enhances oxidative metabolism in skeletal muscle. Excessive lipid oxidation and electron transport chain activity can, however, lead to the accumulation of harmful metabolites and impair glucose homeostasis. Here, we investigated the effect of over-expression of PGC-1α on metabolic control and generation of insulin desensitizing agents in extensor digitorum longus (EDL), a muscle that exhibits low levels of PGC-1α in the untrained state and minimally relies on oxidative metabolism. We demonstrate that PGC-1α induces a strictly balanced substrate oxidation in EDL by concomitantly promoting the transcription of activators and inhibitors of lipid oxidation. Moreover, we show that PGC-1α enhances the potential to uncouple oxidative phosphorylation. Thereby, PGC-1α boosts elevated, yet tightly regulated oxidative metabolism devoid of side products that are detrimental for glucose homeostasis. Accordingly, PI3K activity, an early phase marker for insulin resistance, is preserved in EDL muscle. Our findings suggest that PGC-1α coordinately coactivates the simultaneous transcription of gene clusters implicated in the positive and negative regulation of oxidative metabolism and thereby increases metabolic flexibility. Thus, in mice fed a normal chow diet, over-expression of PGC-1α does not alter insulin sensitivity and the metabolic adaptations elicited by PGC-1α mimic the beneficial effects of endurance training on muscle metabolism in this context.