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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 9;8(7):e67810. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067810. Print 2013.

The asymmetric binding of PGC-1α to the ERRα and ERRγ nuclear receptor homodimers involves a similar recognition mechanism.

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Department of Integrative Structural Biology, Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (IGBMC), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), UMR 7104, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U964, Université de Strasbourg (UdS), Illkirch, France.



PGC-1α is a crucial regulator of cellular metabolism and energy homeostasis that functionally acts together with the estrogen-related receptors (ERRα and ERRγ) in the regulation of mitochondrial and metabolic gene networks. Dimerization of the ERRs is a pre-requisite for interactions with PGC-1α and other coactivators, eventually leading to transactivation. It was suggested recently (Devarakonda et al) that PGC-1α binds in a strikingly different manner to ERRγ ligand-binding domains (LBDs) compared to its mode of binding to ERRα and other nuclear receptors (NRs), where it interacts directly with the two ERRγ homodimer subunits.


Here, we show that PGC-1α receptor interacting domain (RID) binds in an almost identical manner to ERRα and ERRγ homodimers. Microscale thermophoresis demonstrated that the interactions between PGC-1α RID and ERR LBDs involve a single receptor subunit through high-affinity, ERR-specific L3 and low-affinity L2 interactions. NMR studies further defined the limits of PGC-1α RID that interacts with ERRs. Consistent with these findings, the solution structures of PGC-1α/ERRα LBDs and PGC-1α/ERRγ LBDs complexes share an identical architecture with an asymmetric binding of PGC-1α to homodimeric ERR.


These studies provide the molecular determinants for the specificity of interactions between PGC-1α and the ERRs, whereby negative cooperativity prevails in the binding of the coactivators to these receptors. Our work indicates that allosteric regulation may be a general mechanism controlling the binding of the coactivators to homodimers.

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