Bhlhe40 represses PGC-1α activity on metabolic gene promoters in myogenic cells

Shih Ying Chung, Chien Han Kao, Francesc Villarroya, Hsin Yu Chang, Hsuan Chia Chang, Sheng Pin Hsiao, Gunn Guang Liou, Shen Liang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


PGC-1α is a transcriptional coactivator promoting oxidative metabolism in many tissues. Its expression in skeletal muscle (SKM) is induced by hypoxia and reactive oxidative species (ROS) generated during exercise, suggesting that PGC-1α might mediate the cross talk between oxidative metabolism and cellular responses to hypoxia and ROS. Here we found that PGC-1α directly interacted with Bhlhe40, a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcriptional repressor induced by hypoxia, and protects SKM from ROS damage, and they cooccupied PGC-1α-targeted gene promoters/enhancers, which in turn repressed PGC-1α transactivational activity. Bhlhe40 repressed PGC-1α activity through recruiting histone deacetylases (HDACs) and preventing the relief of PGC-1α intramolecular repression caused by its own intrinsic suppressor domain. Knockdown of Bhlhe40 mRNA increased levels of ROS, fatty acid oxidation, mitochondrial DNA, and expression of PGC-1α target genes. Similar effects were also observed when the Bhlhe40-mediated repression was rescued by a dominantly active form of the PGC-1α-interacting domain (PID) from Bhlhe40. We further found that Bhlhe40-mediated repression can be largely relieved by exercise, in which its recruitment to PGC-1α-targeted cis elements was significantly reduced. These observations suggest that Bhlhe40 is a novel regulator of PGC-1α activity repressing oxidative metabolism gene expression and mitochondrion biogenesis in sedentary SKM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2518-2529
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2015


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