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Diabetologia. 1998 Jul;41(7):829-32.

mRNA expression of the long and short forms of uncoupling protein-3 in obese and lean humans.

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  • 1INSERM U317, Institut Louis Bugnard, Université Paul Sabatier, Hôpital Rangueil, Toulouse, France.


Uncoupling protein-3 (UCP3) is a mitochondrial protein expressed in skeletal muscle, an important site of thermogenesis in humans. By uncoupling respiration from ATP synthesis, UCP3 might be involved in the control of energy expenditure. Two transcripts encoding long (UCP3L) and short (UCP3S) form are generated from the human UCP3 gene. UCP3S is predicted to encode a protein which lacks the C-terminus of UCP3L, a region which contains motifs critical for uncoupling activity. We have investigated the regulation of UCP3L and UCP3S mRNAs in lean and obese humans. A specific reverse transcription-competitive polymerase chain reaction assay was developed to separately quantify the two mRNAs. Each transcript represents half of total UCP3 mRNA in 16 vastus lateralis muscle samples. The amounts of UCP3L and UCP3S mRNAs did not differ between obese and lean subjects. The effect of fasting was studied in six lean and seven obese subjects maintained on a hypocaloric diet (1045 kJ/d) for 5 days. Calorie restriction results in an approximately threefold increase of UCP3L and UCP3S mRNA levels. The induction was similar in lean and obese subjects. The data suggest that there is no major alteration of UCP3 gene expression and regulation at the level of transcription and alternative splicing in skeletal muscle of obese subjects.

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