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      Respiration under Control of Uncoupling Proteins: Clinical Perspective

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          Abstract

          The term ‘uncoupling protein’ was originally used for the mitochondrial membrane protein UCP1, which is uniquely present in mitochondria of brown adipocytes, thermogenic cells that regulate body temperature in small rodents, hibernators and mammalian newborns. In these cells, UCP1 acts as a proton carrier activated by free fatty acids and creates a shunt between complexes of the respiratory chain and ATP-synthase resulting in a futile proton cycling and dissipation of oxidation energy as heat. Recent identification of new homologues to UCP1 expressed in brown and white adipose tissue, muscle, brain and other tissues together with the hypothesis that these novel uncoupling proteins (UCPs) may regulate thermogenesis and/or fatty acid metabolism and furthermore may protect against free radical oxygen species production have generated considerable optimism for rapid advances in the identification of new targets for pharmacological management of complex pathological syndromes such as obesity, type 2 diabetes or chronic inflammatory diseases. However, since the physiological and biochemical roles of the novel UCPs are not yet clear, the main challenge today consists first of all in providing mechanistic explanation for their functions in cellular physiology. This lively awaited information may be the basis for potential pharmacological targeting of the UCPs in future.

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          Most cited references 54

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          Mice lacking mitochondrial uncoupling protein are cold-sensitive but not obese.

          The mitochondrial uncoupling protein (UCP) in the mitochondrial inner membrane of mammalian brown adipose tissue generates heat by uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation. This process protects against cold and regulates energy balance. Manipulation of thermogenesis could be an effective strategy against obesity. Here we determine the role of UCP in the regulation of body mass by targeted inactivation of the gene encoding it. We find that UCP-deficient mice consume less oxygen after treatment with a beta3-adrenergic-receptor agonist and that they are sensitive to cold, indicating that their thermoregulation is defective. However, this deficiency caused neither hyperphagia nor obesity in mice fed on either a standard or a high-fat diet. We propose that the loss of UCP may be compensated by UCP2, a newly discovered homologue of UCP; this gene is ubiquitously expressed and is induced in the brown fat of UCP-deficient mice.
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            Disruption of the uncoupling protein-2 gene in mice reveals a role in immunity and reactive oxygen species production.

            The gene Ucp2 is a member of a family of genes found in animals and plants, encoding a protein homologous to the brown fat uncoupling protein Ucp1 (refs 1-3). As Ucp2 is widely expressed in mammalian tissues, uncouples respiration and resides within a region of genetic linkage to obesity, a role in energy dissipation has been proposed. We demonstrate here, however, that mice lacking Ucp2 following targeted gene disruption are not obese and have a normal response to cold exposure or high-fat diet. Expression of Ucp2 is robust in spleen, lung and isolated macrophages, suggesting a role for Ucp2 in immunity or inflammatory responsiveness. We investigated the response to infection with Toxoplasma gondii in Ucp2-/- mice, and found that they are completely resistant to infection, in contrast with the lethality observed in wild-type littermates. Parasitic cysts and inflammation sites in brain were significantly reduced in Ucp2-/- mice (63% decrease, P<0.04). Macrophages from Ucp2-/- mice generated more reactive oxygen species than wild-type mice (80% increase, P<0.001) in response to T. gondii, and had a fivefold greater toxoplasmacidal activity in vitro compared with wild-type mice (P<0.001 ), which was absent in the presence of a quencher of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Our results indicate a role for Ucp2 in the limitation of ROS and macrophage-mediated immunity.
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              Uncoupling protein-2: a novel gene linked to obesity and hyperinsulinemia.

              A mitochondrial protein called uncoupling protein (UCP1) plays an important role in generating heat and burning calories by creating a pathway that allows dissipation of the proton electrochemical gradient across the inner mitochondrial membrane in brown adipose tissue, without coupling to any other energy-consuming process. This pathway has been implicated in the regulation of body temperature, body composition and glucose metabolism. However, UCP1-containing brown adipose tissue is unlikely to be involved in weight regulation in adult large-size animals and humans living in a thermoneutral environment (one where an animal does not have to increase oxygen consumption or energy expenditure to lose or gain heat to maintain body temperature), as there is little brown adipose tissue present. We now report the discovery of a gene that codes for a novel uncoupling protein, designated UCP2, which has 59% amino-acid identity to UCP1, and describe properties consistent with a role in diabetes and obesity. In comparison with UCP1, UCP2 has a greater effect on mitochondrial membrane potential when expressed in yeast. Compared to UCP1, the gene is widely expressed in adult human tissues, including tissues rich in macrophages, and it is upregulated in white fat in response to fat feeding. Finally, UCP2 maps to regions of human chromosome 11 and mouse chromosome 7 that have been linked to hyperinsulinaemia and obesity. Our findings suggest that UCP2 has a unique role in energy balance, body weight regulation and thermoregulation and their responses to inflammatory stimuli.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                HRE
                Horm Res Paediatr
                10.1159/issn.1663-2818
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                1663-2818
                1663-2826
                2006
                June 2006
                09 June 2006
                : 65
                : 6
                : 300-310
                Affiliations
                Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unit 9078, Faculty of Medicine René Descartes Paris 5, Paris, France
                Article
                92847 Horm Res 2006;65:300–310
                10.1159/000092847
                16641553
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, References: 81, Pages: 11
                Categories
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