Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to a wide range of degenerative and metabolic diseases, cancer, and aging. All these clinical manifestations arise from the central role of bioenergetics in cell biology. Although genetic therapies are maturing as the rules of bioenergetic genetics are clarified, metabolic therapies have been ineffectual. This failure results from our limited appreciation of the role of bioenergetics as the interface between the environment and the cell. A systems approach, which, ironically, was first successfully applied over 80 years ago with the introduction of the ketogenic diet, is required. Analysis of the many ways that a shift from carbohydrate glycolytic metabolism to fatty acid and ketone oxidative metabolism may modulate metabolism, signal transduction pathways, and the epigenome gives us an appreciation of the ketogenic diet and the potential for bioenergetic therapeutics.
The epigenome has been hypothesized to provide the interface between the environment and the nuclear DNA (nDNA) genes. Key factors in the environment are the availability of calories and demands on the organism’s energetic capacity. Energy is funneled through glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), the cellular bioenergetic systems. Since there are thousands of bioenergetic genes dispersed across the chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), both cis and trans regulation of the nDNA genes is required. The bioenergetic systems convert environmental calories into ATP, acetyl-Coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA), S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM), and reduced NAD+. When calories are abundant, ATP and acetyl-CoA phosphorylate and acetylate chromatin, opening the nDNA for transcription and replication. When calories are limiting, chromatin phosphorylation and acetylation are lost and gene expression is suppressed. DNA methylaton via SAM can also be modulated by mitochondrial function. Phosphorylation and acetylation are also pivotal to regulating cellular signal transduction pathways. Therefore, bioenergetics provides the interface between the environment and the epigenome. Consistent with this conclusion, the clinical phenotypes of bioenergetic diseases are strikingly similar to those observed in epigenetic diseases (Angelman, Rett, Fragile X Syndromes, the laminopathies, cancer, etc.), and an increasing number of epigenetic diseases are being associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. This bioenergetic-epigenomic hypothesis has broad implications for the etiology, pathophysiology, and treatment of a wide range of common diseases.
The majority of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations that cause human disease are mild to moderately deleterious, yet many random mtDNA mutations would be expected to be severe. To determine the fate of the more severe mtDNA mutations, we introduced mtDNAs containing two mutations that affect oxidative phosphorylation into the female mouse germ line. The severe ND6 mutation was selectively eliminated during oogenesis within four generations, whereas the milder COI mutation was retained throughout multiple generations even though the offspring consistently developed mitochondrial myopathy and cardiomyopathy. Thus, severe mtDNA mutations appear to be selectively eliminated from the female germ line, thereby minimizing their impact on population fitness.
Transcriptional coregulators control the activity of many transcription factors and are thought to have wide ranging effects on gene expression patterns. We show here that muscle-specific nuclear receptor corepressor 1 (NCoR1) knockout mice have rather selective phenotypic changes, characterized by enhanced exercise endurance due to an increase of both muscle mass and of mitochondrial number and activity. The activation of selected transcription factors that control muscle function, such as MEF2, PPARβ/δ and ERRs, underpinned these phenotypic alterations. NCoR1 levels are decreased in conditions that require fat oxidation resetting transcriptional programs to boost oxidative metabolism. The capacity of NCoR1 to modulate oxidative metabolism may be conserved as the knockdown of gei-8, the sole C.elegans NCoR homolog, also robustly increased muscle mitochondria and respiration. Collectively, our data suggest that NCoR1 plays an adaptive role in muscle physiology and that interference with NCoR1 action could be used to improve muscle function.
FGF1 is an autocrine/paracrine regulator whose binding to heparan sulfate proteoglycans effectively precludes its circulation 1,2. Though known as a mitogenic factor, FGF1 knockout mice develop insulin resistance when stressed by a high fat diet, suggesting a potential role in nutrient homeostasis 3,4. Here we show that parenteral delivery of a single dose of recombinant FGF1 (rFGF1) results in potent, insulin-dependent glucose lowering in diabetic mice that is dose-dependent, but does not lead to hypoglycemia. Chronic pharmacological rFGF1 treatment increases insulin-dependent glucose uptake in skeletal muscle and suppresses hepatic glucose production to achieve whole-body insulin sensitization. The sustained glucose lowering and insulin sensitization attributed to rFGF1 are not accompanied by the side effects of weight gain, liver steatosis and bone loss associated with current insulin sensitizing therapies. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the glucose lowering activity of FGF1 can be dissociated from its mitogenic activity and is mediated predominantly via FGF receptor 1 (FGFR1) signaling. In summary, we have uncovered an unexpected, neomorphic insulin sensitizing action for exogenous non-mitogenic human FGF1 with therapeutic potential for treatment of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
How type I skeletal muscle inherently maintains high oxidative and vascular capacity in absence of exercise in unclear. We show that nuclear receptor ERRγ is highly expressed in type I muscle and when transgenically expressed in anaerobic type II muscles (ERRGO mice), dually induces metabolic and vascular transformation in absence of exercise. ERRGO mice show increased expression of genes promoting fat metabolism, mitochondrial respiration and type I fiber specification. Muscles in ERRGO mice also display an activated angiogenic program marked by myofibrillar induction and secretion of pro-angiogenic factors, neo-vascularization and a 100% increase in running endurance. Surprisingly, the induction of type I muscle properties by ERRγ does not involve PGC1α. Instead, ERRγ genetically activates the energy sensor AMPK, in mediating the metabo-vascular changes in the ERRGO mice. Therefore, ERRγ represents a previously unrecognized determinant that specifies intrinsic vascular and oxidative metabolic features that distinguish type I from type II muscle.
An animal model of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) was produced by introducing the human optic atrophy mtDNA ND6 P25L mutation into the mouse. Mice with this mutation exhibited reduction in retinal function by elecroretinogram (ERG), age-related decline in central smaller caliber optic nerve fibers with sparing of larger peripheral fibers, neuronal accumulation of abnormal mitochondria, axonal swelling, and demyelination. Mitochondrial analysis revealed partial complex I and respiration defects and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, whereas synaptosome analysis revealed decreased complex I activity and increased ROS but no diminution of ATP production. Thus, LHON pathophysiology may result from oxidative stress.eber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), the first inherited mitochondrial (mt)DNA disease reported (1), is thought to be one of the most prevalent diseases caused by mtDNA missense mutations, having an estimated frequency of 15 in 100,000 (2). Most European LHON mutations occur in the mtDNA oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complex I (NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase or NADH dehydrogenase) genes, the three most common being the ND4 gene mutation at nucleotide G11778A causing an arginine 340 to histidine (R340H) substitution (1), the ND1 G3460A (A52T) mutation (3), and the ND6 T14484C (M64V) mutation (4). Milder LHON mutations are generally homoplasmic (pure mutant). In contrast, more severe mtDNA complex I ND gene mutations can cause basal ganglia degeneration presenting as dystonia or Leigh syndrome when homoplasmic but optic atrophy when heteroplasmic (mixed mutant and normal mtDNAs). Two examples of such mutations are ND6 G14459A (A72V) (5) and ND6 G14600A (P25L) (6).LHON generally presents in the second or third decade of life as acute or subacute onset of central vision loss, first in one eye and then in the other. The percentage of optic atrophy in patients varies markedly among pedigrees. Male patients are two to five times more likely to develop blindness than female patients (2), and maternal relatives who have not progressed to subacute optic atrophy can still show signs of visual impairment (7,8).In LHON, optic atrophy is associated with preferential loss of the central small-caliber optic nerve fibers of the papillomacular bundle, resulting in central scotoma but with sparing of the largercaliber peripheral fibers and retention of peripheral vision. The loss of the optic nerve fibers is attributed to the death of retinal ganglion cells (RGC) as a result of the high energy demand placed on the unmyelinated portion of the optic nerve fibers anterior to the lamina cribosa, an area associated with high mitochondrial density (2).Complex I is the largest and most intricate of the mitochondrial OXPHOS complexes. It is comprised of 45 subunits, 7 (ND1, -2, -3, -4, -4L, -5, and -6) of which are coded by the mtDNA (9). Complex I transfers electrons from NADH to ubiquinone, and the energy released from this redox reaction is coupled to pumping protons across the mitochondrial in...
Since the revitalization of “the Warburg effect”, there has been great interest in mitochondrial oxidative metabolism, not only from the cancer perspective but also from the general biomedical science field. As the center of oxidative metabolism, mitochondria and their metabolic activity are tightly controlled to meet cellular energy requirements under different physiological conditions. One such mechanism is through the inducible transcriptional co-regulators PGC1α and NCOR1, which respond to various internal or external stimuli to modulate mitochondrial function. However, the activity of such co-regulators depends on their interaction with transcriptional factors that directly bind to and control downstream target genes. The nuclear receptors PPARs and ERRs have been shown to be key transcriptional factors in regulating mitochondrial oxidative metabolism and executing the inducible effects of PGC1α and NCOR1. In this review, we summarize recent gain- and loss-of-function studies of PPARs and ERRs in metabolic tissues and discuss their unique roles in regulating different aspects of mitochondrial oxidative metabolism.
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