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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2010 Mar;37(3):392-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2009.05311.x. Epub 2009 Sep 28.

Histone modifications and skeletal muscle metabolic gene expression.

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School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong, Vic., Australia.


1. Skeletal muscle oxidative function and metabolic gene expression are co-ordinately downregulated in metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Altering skeletal muscle metabolic gene expression to favour enhanced energy expenditure is considered a potential therapy to combat these diseases. 2. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are chromatin-remodelling enzymes that repress gene expression. It has been shown that HDAC4 and 5 co-operatively regulate a number of genes involved in various aspects of metabolism. Understanding how HDACs are regulated provides insights into the mechanisms regulating skeletal muscle metabolic gene expression. 3. Multiple kinases control phosphorylation-dependent nuclear export of HDACs, rendering them unable to repress transcription. We have found a major role for the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in response to energetic stress, yet metabolic gene expression is maintained in the absence of AMPK activity. Preliminary evidence suggests a potential role for protein kinase D, also a Class IIa HDAC kinase, in this response. 4. The HDACs are also regulated by ubiquitin-mediated proteasomal degradation, although the exact mediators of this process have not been identified. 5. Because HDACs appear to be critical regulators of skeletal muscle metabolic gene expression, HDAC inhibition could be an effective therapy to treat metabolic diseases. 6. Together, these data show that HDAC4 and 5 are critical regulators of metabolic gene expression and that understanding their regulation could provide a number of points of intervention for therapies designed to treat metabolic diseases, such as insulin resistance, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

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