The transcription of the human UCP3 (uncoupling protein-3) gene in skeletal muscle is tightly regulated by metabolic signals related to fatty acid availability. However, changes in thyroid status also modulate UCP3 gene expression, albeit by unknown mechanisms. We created transgenic mice bearing the entire human UCP3 gene to investigate the effect of thyroid hormones on human UCP3 gene expression. Treatment of human UCP3 transgenic mice with thyroid hormones induced the expression of the human gene in skeletal muscle. In addition, transient transfection experiments demonstrate that thyroid hormones activate the transcription of the human UCP3 gene promoter when MyoD and the TR (thyroid hormone receptor) were co-transfected. The action of thyroid hormones on UCP3 gene transcription is mediated by the binding of the TR to a proximal region in the UCP3 gene promoter that contains a direct repeat structure. An intact DNA sequence of this site is required for thyroid hormone responsiveness and TR binding. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays revealed that the TR binds this element in vivo. The murine Ucp3 gene promoter was also dependent on MyoD and responsive to thyroid hormone in transient transfection assays. However, it was much less sensitive to thyroid hormone than the human UCP3 promoter. In summary, UCP3 gene transcription is activated by thyroid hormone treatment in vivo, and this activation is mediated by a TRE (thyroid hormone response element) in the proximal promoter region. Such regulation suggests a link between UCP3 gene expression and the effects of thyroid hormone on mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle.

You do not currently have access to this content.