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PLoS One. 2008 Jun 25;3(6):e2501. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002501.

Overexpression of the mitochondrial T3 receptor p43 induces a shift in skeletal muscle fiber types.

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  • 1INRA, UMR866 Différenciation cellulaire et croissance, Montpellier, France. casasf@supagro.inra.fr


In previous studies, we have characterized a new hormonal pathway involving a mitochondrial T3 receptor (p43) acting as a mitochondrial transcription factor and consequently stimulating mitochondrial activity and mitochondrial biogenesis. We have established the involvement of this T3 pathway in the regulation of in vitro myoblast differentiation. We have generated mice overexpressing p43 under control of the human alpha-skeletal actin promoter. In agreement with the previous characterization of this promoter, northern-blot and western-blot experiments confirmed that after birth p43 was specifically overexpressed in skeletal muscle. As expected from in vitro studies, in 2-month old mice, p43 overexpression increased mitochondrial genes expression and mitochondrial biogenesis as attested by the increase of mitochondrial mass and mt-DNA copy number. In addition, transgenic mice had a body temperature 0.8 degrees C higher than control ones and displayed lower plasma triiodothyronine levels. Skeletal muscles of transgenic mice were redder than wild-type animals suggesting an increased oxidative metabolism. In line with this observation, in gastrocnemius, we recorded a strong increase in cytochrome oxidase activity and in mitochondrial respiration. Moreover, we observed that p43 drives the formation of oxidative fibers: in soleus muscle, where MyHC IIa fibers were partly replaced by type I fibers; in gastrocnemius muscle, we found an increase in MyHC IIa and IIx expression associated with a reduction in the number of glycolytic fibers type IIb. In addition, we found that PGC-1alpha and PPARdelta, two major regulators of muscle phenotype were up regulated in p43 transgenic mice suggesting that these proteins could be downstream targets of mitochondrial activity. These data indicate that the direct mitochondrial T3 pathway is deeply involved in the acquisition of contractile and metabolic features of muscle fibers in particular by regulating PGC-1alpha and PPARdelta.

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