Obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) affects one in 10 U.S. adults with direct annual medical costs near $120 billion. It is clear chronic alterations in energy storage and utilization, as in obesity, causes lipid deposition in non-adipose tissues, which is tightly associated with insulin resistance and T2DM. Thus, the ability of adipocytes to store energy as lipids is a crucial component of T2DM, and their production of key metabolic adipokines to regulate systemic insulin sensitivity, strongly reinforces their importance. Characteristics of adipocyte function, including fat metabolism and adipokine expression, are tightly regulated by peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPAR?). Therapeutic PPAR? activation by thiazolidinediones increases insulin sensitivity and fat storage efficiency in T2DM with serious, negative side effects including edema, bone loss, bladder cancer, and heart failure. These findings highlight the inadequacy of current T2DM drugs and the need for innovative treatments to promote the beneficial effects of PPAR?, while minimizing undesirable effects. I discovered the small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMO) E2-conjugation enzyme Ubc9 and its cognate microRNA (miR-30a) as a novel signaling loop which regulates PPAR? transactivation and energy balance genes in adipocytes. My findings suggest the Ubc9/miR-30a axis is regulated by PPAR? and promotes a gene expression profile which reflects beige adipocytes. Therefore, I hypothesize miR-30a down-regulates Ubc9 to promote insulin sensitivity and energy expenditure in adipose tissue. The following specific aims will use modern biochemical approaches and in vivo experiments to identify how the Ubc9/miR-30a axis regulates energy balance in adipocytes.
Aim 1 will define the role of the Ubc9/miR-30a axis in promoting a metabolic profile associated with increased energy expenditure.
Aim 2 will define the molecular mechanism of miR-30a regulation by anti-diabetic PPAR? ligands.
Aim 3 will use mouse models of T2DM to define the impact of exogenous miR-30a expression in adipocytes on insulin sensitivity. I anticipate that my studies will provide new clues into the complex regulatory networks controlling energy balance in fat cells. If my hypothesis is true, the Ubc9/miR-30a axis might be exploited in novel therapies to manage T2DM.

Public Health Relevance

Obesity and T2DM are chronic health problems issues in the United States. Mechanisms that selectively regulate energy storage and expenditure have the potential to improve the therapeutic targeting of PPAR? in T2DM. Obesity is a major public health concern because it increases the risk for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR?) is the target of current, imperfect anti- diabetic therapies with undesirable side effects. This research seeks to define a new feedback loop as an alternative to current PPAR?-targeted therapies for treating type 2 diabetes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Digestive Diseases and Nutrition C Subcommittee (DDK)
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Hyde, James F
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Baylor College of Medicine
Anatomy/Cell Biology
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United States
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