Send to

Choose Destination
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Mar;90(3):1137-57.

Invited Review: contractile activity-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle.

Author information

Department of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3.


Chronic contractile activity produces mitochondrial biogenesis in muscle. This adaptation results in a significant shift in adenine nucleotide metabolism, with attendant improvements in fatigue resistance. The vast majority of mitochondrial proteins are derived from the nuclear genome, necessitating the transcription of genes, the translation of mRNA into protein, the targeting of the protein to a mitochondrial compartment via the import machinery, and the assembly of multisubunit enzyme complexes in the respiratory chain or matrix. Putative signals involved in initiating this pathway of gene expression in response to contractile activity likely arise from combinations of accelerations in ATP turnover or imbalances between mitochondrial ATP synthesis and cellular ATP demand, and Ca(2+) fluxes. These rapid events are followed by the activation of exercise-responsive kinases, which phosphorylate proteins such as transcription factors, which subsequently bind to upstream regulatory regions in DNA, to alter transcription rates. Contractile activity increases the mRNA levels of nuclear-encoded proteins such as cytochrome c and mitochondrial transcription factor A (Tfam) and mRNA levels of upstream transcription factors like c-jun and nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1). mRNA level changes are often most evident during the postexercise recovery period, and they can occur as a result of contractile activity-induced increases in transcription or mRNA stability. Tfam is imported into mitochondria and controls the expression of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). mtDNA contributes only 13 protein products to the respiratory chain, but they are vital for electron transport and ATP synthesis. Contractile activity increases Tfam expression and accelerates its import into mitochondria, resulting in increased mtDNA transcription and replication. The result of this coordinated expression of the nuclear and the mitochondrial genomes, along with poorly understood changes in phospholipid synthesis, is an expansion of the muscle mitochondrial reticulum. Further understanding of 1) regulation of mtDNA expression, 2) upstream activators of NRF-1 and other transcription factors, 3) the identity of mRNA stabilizing proteins, and 4) potential of contractile activity-induced changes in apoptotic signals are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center