Adaptive thermogenesis is an important component of energy homeostasis and a metabolic defense against obesity. We have cloned a novel transcriptional coactivator of nuclear receptors, termed PGC-1, from a brown fat cDNA library. PGC-1 mRNA expression is dramatically elevated upon cold exposure of mice in both brown fat and skeletal muscle, key thermogenic tissues. PGC-1 greatly increases the transcriptional activity of PPARgamma and the thyroid hormone receptor on the uncoupling protein (UCP-1) promoter. Ectopic expression of PGC-1 in white adipose cells activates expression of UCP-1 and key mitochondrial enzymes of the respiratory chain, and increases the cellular content of mitochondrial DNA. These results indicate that PGC-1 plays a key role in linking nuclear receptors to the transcriptional program of adaptive thermogenesis.
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