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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41817. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041817. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

PGC-1α is dispensable for exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Exercise confers numerous health benefits, many of which are thought to stem from exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis (EIMB) in skeletal muscle. The transcriptional coactivator PGC-1α, a potent regulator of metabolism in numerous tissues, is widely believed to be required for EIMB. We show here that this is not the case. Mice engineered to lack PGC-1α specifically in skeletal muscle (Myo-PGC-1αKO mice) retained intact EIMB. The exercise capacity of these mice was comparable to littermate controls. Induction of metabolic genes after 2 weeks of in-cage voluntary wheel running was intact. Electron microscopy revealed no gross abnormalities in mitochondria, and the mitochondrial biogenic response to endurance exercise was as robust in Myo-PGC-1αKO mice as in wildtype mice. The induction of enzymatic activity of the electron transport chain by exercise was likewise unperturbed in Myo-PGC-1αKO mice. These data demonstrate that PGC-1α is dispensable for exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle, in sharp contrast to the prevalent assumption in the field.

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