Skeletal muscle plays key roles in glucose and lipid homeostasis, and contributes to whole body energy expenditure. Poor physical fitness and inactivity are risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, a disease reaching epidemic proportions. Conversely, physical activity is effective in improving metabolic health, by enhancing insulin sensitivity and improving lipid parameters. Interestingly, both the capacity for exercise, and the metabolic benefits and responses to exercise, vary greatly among individuals and are decreased in some disease states. Thus, elucidating the mechanisms that determine muscle function and fitness (and thereby enable exercise), and mediate exercise-induced skeletal muscle responses is important for finding new ways to target muscle and improve metabolic health. The family of estrogen-related receptors (ERR?, ERR? and ERR?) regulates oxidative metabolism and other ancillary pathways important for energy homeostasis. As members of the nuclear receptor family, ERRs have pockets that accommodate synthetic ligands and can thus be targeted therapeutically. Our preliminary data show that all three members of the family are expressed in skeletal muscle and activated by exercise signals. We also show that ERRs collectively determine the expression of genes important for metabolic and contractile properties of skeletal muscle. In the proposed work, we will define the cellular and physiologic functions of ERRs in skeletal muscle, at the basal state and in the response to endurance exercise, using mice lacking ERRs specifically in muscle. We will also gain insights into the mechanisms by which ERRs remodel muscle, by elucidating the physiological role and mechanism of action of the ERR-induced protein Perm1, which we recently identified as a PGC-1/ERR downstream effector important for the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative capacity. Overall, we expect to provide novel insights into regulatory mechanisms that enable and shape skeletal muscle adaptive responses to endurance exercise, and to elucidate pathways relevant to diseases with compromised oxidative metabolism and muscle function, such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, disease-associated or injury-caused muscle atrophies, and age-related muscle degeneration. Our findings will be important for guiding future efforts to use ERR ligands to enhance muscle function and/or benefits from exercise.

Public Health Relevance

Poor physical fitness and inactivity are risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, a disease reaching epidemic proportions, while exercise is an effective way to improve insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles. The proposed research will elucidate skeletal muscle regulatory mechanisms that enable exercise and shape muscle adaptations to endurance exercise, and may thus lead to therapeutics that benefit individuals with impaired muscle function and metabolism, as in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, chronic disease-associated muscle atrophies, or age-related muscle degeneration.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Skeletal Muscle and Exercise Physiology Study Section (SMEP)
Program Officer
Silva, Corinne M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla
United States
Zip Code
Jordan, Sabine D; Kriebs, Anna; Vaughan, Megan et al. (2017) CRY1/2 Selectively Repress PPAR? and Limit Exercise Capacity. Cell Metab 26:243-255.e6
Cho, Yoshitake; Hazen, Bethany C; Gandra, Paulo G et al. (2016) Perm1 enhances mitochondrial biogenesis, oxidative capacity, and fatigue resistance in adult skeletal muscle. FASEB J 30:674-87
Gan, Zhenji; Rumsey, John; Hazen, Bethany C et al. (2013) Nuclear receptor/microRNA circuitry links muscle fiber type to energy metabolism. J Clin Invest 123:2564-75