Impaired ER1 action due to genetic inactivating mutations and reductions in ER1 levels in the context of obesity and menopause are associated with features of the metabolic syndrome (MS). We have recently recapitulated aspects of this syndrome in whole body ER1-/- mice. Clinical observations and findings from rodent studies conducted in our laboratory support the hypothesis that reduced ER1 expression may in part underlie the dramatic rise in the MS in women and potentially explain the lack of anticipated health benefit of postmenopausal estrogen replacement. To date, little is known regarding the mechanisms causing reduced ER1 levels in obese subjects or the specific tissue(s) conferring ER1-mediated effects on insulin sensitivity. Our research efforts are focused on defining the role of ER1 in skeletal muscle, given that muscle is a primary tissue contributing to whole body oxidative metabolism and insulin-mediated glucose disposal.
In Aim1, we propose the use of mouse genetics, in combination with in vivo and in vitro approaches to generate muscle-specific ER1 loss- and gain-of-function mutations to test whether skeletal muscle ER1 is an important regulator of insulin sensitivity and adiposity. We provide compelling data showing that muscle ER1 maintains insulin action and protects against obesity, due in large part to its role in promoting oxidative metabolism and preventing tissue inflammation. Herein, we identify a novel role for ER1 in the regulation of mitochondrial morphology and turnover, as mitochondria are enlarged and misaligned, and mitophagy and biogenesis-related factors (e.g. the PINK1/Parkin pathway and Pgc11) are dysregulated in mice with muscle- specific ER1 deletion.
In Aim 2, we will examine the role of ER1 in adaptations to endurance exercise.
This aim i s of particular clinical interest especially if the full health benefit of exercise cannot be achieved in muscle deficient in ER1. Indeed our findings show accelerated muscle fatigue and impaired exercise-mediated induction of factors controlling mitochondrial turnover in muscle-specific ER1 knockout mice.
In Aim 3, we will test the hypothesis that reduced ER1 levels, as we observe in aged human muscle, results from protein hyperacetylation and targeted proteasomal degradation. Using newly generated tagged ER1 mutants that mimic or are resistant to acetylation coupled with an ERE-luciferase reporter system, we will investigate the relationship between acetylation state, transcriptional cofactor expression, and ER1 abundance. We now provide evidence that SIRT1, a class III HDAC with protein deacetylase function, is a central regulator of the "acetylation-phosphorylation switch" that appears to control ER1 levels and action in muscle. We anticipate that our findings will exert an important and lasting impact on the field of research and provide the critical foundation for the advancement of therapeutic strategies to treat metabolic dysfunction that underlies many female-related chronic diseases.
The incidence of the metabolic syndrome is rising dramatically in women and is associated with elevated morbidity and mortality secondary to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hepatic dysfunction, and certain types of cancer. Human inactivating mutations in the estrogen receptor (ER) alpha are associated with features of the metabolic syndrome including insulin resistance and obesity, and we find that skeletal muscle-specific ERalpha knockout mice recapitulate a similar phenotype. Thus, we propose that strategies to maintain expression of ERalpha in glucoregulatory tissues, particularly skeletal muscle, may help prevent or ameliorate chronic disease in women.
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