Uncoupling protein (UCP)-2 and UCP-3 are two recently discovered proteins similar to UCP-1, which regulates thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT). Whereas UCP-1 expression is restricted to BAT, UCP-2 is widely expressed. UCP-3 is found mainly in skeletal muscle and BAT. A large body of evidence exists that the expression of UCP-2 and UCP-3 in skeletal muscle of mice is regulated by feeding/fasting, and some studies have suggested that this effect might be caused by the changing concentration of plasma non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs). In an attempt to determine whether the increased import of triacylglycerol-derived NEFAs can also affect UCP expression, we determined the mRNA levels of UCP-1, UCP-2 and UCP-3 in BAT and muscle of induced mutant mouse lines that overexpressed or lacked lipoprotein lipase (LPL) in these tissues. The expression levels of UCP-1 and UCP-2 in BAT and in skeletal and cardiac muscle respectively were not affected by variations in tissue LPL activities. In contrast, UCP-3 mRNA levels were induced 3.4-fold in mice with high levels of LPL in skeletal muscle, and down-regulated in mice that lacked LPL in skeletal muscle. The presence or absence of LPL in BAT had no effect on UCP-3 expression levels. The response of UCP-3 mRNA expression to variations in LPL activity in skeletal muscle was independent of the feeding status or of plasma NEFA concentrations. These findings indicated that NEFAs as lipolytic products of LPL-mediated triacylglycerol hydrolysis markedly affect UCP-3 expression and that increased LPL activities occurring during fasting in skeletal muscle contribute to the induction of UCP-3 expression by promoting the increased uptake of NEFAs. In addition, our results demonstrate that UCP-2 and UCP-3 are differentially regulated in response to LPL-mediated NEFA uptake in skeletal muscle of mice.

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