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Cell Metab. 2006 May;3(5):333-41.

Complementary action of the PGC-1 coactivators in mitochondrial biogenesis and brown fat differentiation.

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  • 1Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, 1 Jimmy Fund Way, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Mitochondria play an essential role in the ability of brown fat to generate heat, and the PGC-1 coactivators control several aspects of mitochondrial biogenesis. To investigate their specific roles in brown fat cells, we generated immortal preadipocyte lines from the brown adipose tissue of mice lacking PGC-1alpha. We could then efficiently knockdown PGC-1beta expression by shRNA expression. Loss of PGC-1alpha did not alter brown fat differentiation but severely reduced the induction of thermogenic genes. Cells deficient in either PGC-1alpha or PGC-1beta coactivators showed a small decrease in the differentiation-dependant program of mitochondrial biogenesis and respiration; however, this increase in mitochondrial number and function was totally abolished during brown fat differentiation when both PGC-1alpha and PGC-1beta were deficient. These data show that PGC-1alpha is essential for brown fat thermogenesis but not brown fat differentiation, and the PGC-1 coactivators play an absolutely essential but complementary function in differentiation-induced mitochondrial biogenesis.

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