PGC-1alpha is a coactivator of nuclear receptors and other transcription factors that regulates several metabolic processes, including mitochondrial biogenesis and respiration, hepatic gluconeogenesis, and muscle fiber-type switching. We show here that, while hepatocytes lacking PGC-1alpha are defective in the program of hormone-stimulated gluconeogenesis, the mice have constitutively activated gluconeogenic gene expression that is completely insensitive to normal feeding controls. C/EBPbeta is elevated in the livers of these mice and activates the gluconeogenic genes in a PGC-1alpha-independent manner. Despite having reduced mitochondrial function, PGC-1alpha null mice are paradoxically lean and resistant to diet-induced obesity. This is largely due to a profound hyperactivity displayed by the null animals and is associated with lesions in the striatal region of the brain that controls movement. These data illustrate a central role for PGC-1alpha in the control of energy metabolism but also reveal novel systemic compensatory mechanisms and pathogenic effects of impaired energy homeostasis.
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