, Volume 53, Issue 6, pp 1174-1183
Date: 09 Mar 2010

Overexpression of the orphan receptor Nur77 alters glucose metabolism in rat muscle cells and rat muscle in vivo

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

A hallmark feature of the metabolic syndrome is abnormal glucose metabolism which can be improved by exercise. Recently the orphan nuclear receptor subfamily 4, group A, member 1 (NUR77) was found to be induced by exercise in muscle and was linked to transcriptional control of genes involved in lipid and glucose metabolism. Here we investigated if overexpression of Nur77 (also known as Nr4a1) in skeletal muscle has functional consequences for lipid and/or glucose metabolism.

Methods

L6 rat skeletal muscle myotubes were infected with a Nur77-coding adenovirus and lipid and glucose oxidation was measured. Nur77 was also overexpressed in skeletal muscle of chow- and fat-fed rats and the effects on glucose and lipid metabolism evaluated.

Results

Nur77 overexpression had no effect on lipid oxidation in L6 cells or rat muscle, but did increase glucose oxidation and glycogen synthesis in L6 cells. In chow- and high-fat-fed rats, Nur77 overexpression by electrotransfer significantly increased basal glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis, but no increase in insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism was observed. Nur77 electrotransfer was associated with increased production of GLUT4 and glycogenin and increased hexokinase and phosphofructokinase activity. Interestingly, Nur77 expression in muscle biopsies from obese men was significantly lower than in those from lean men and was closely correlated with body-fat content and insulin sensitivity.

Conclusions/interpretation

Our data provide compelling evidence that NUR77 is a functional regulator of glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle in vivo. Importantly, the diminished content in muscle of obese insulin-resistant men suggests that it might be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of dysregulated glucose metabolism.