The PGC-1α-related coactivator promotes mitochondrial and myogenic adaptations in C2C12 myotubes

Andrew Philp, Micah Y. Belew, Ashleigh Evans, Don Pham, Itwinder Sivia, Ai Chen, Simon Schenk, Keith Baar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The transcriptional coactivator PGC-1α is a potent regulator of skeletal muscle metabolism. Less is known about the structurally similar PGC-1α -related coactivator (PRC) that is enriched in myoblasts and adult skeletal muscle. The present study was designed to determine the effect of PRC on the metabolic profile of C2C12 myotubes. Overexpression of full-length PRC increased PRC gene expression by 2.7 ± 0.3-fold and protein content by 108 ± 5.3%. This modest elevation in PRC resulted in an increased rate of myoblast proliferation (61.5 ± 2.7%) and resulted in myotubes characterized by increased MyoD (18.2 ± 0.52%) and myosin heavy chain (15.4 ± 3.13%) protein. PRC overexpressing myotubes showed increases in mRNA for some-COX4 (2.6 ± 0.18-fold), ATP5B (2.7 ± 0.34-fold) cytochrome c (5.1 ± 0.68- fold)-but not all, MTCO1 (0.61 ± 0.18-fold) and HAD (0.98 ± 0.36-fold) mitochondrial genes, as well as a significant increase in cytochrome-c (28.7 ± 7.02%) protein content. The enzyme activity of the electron transport chain (ETC) complex IV (3.7 ± 0.01-fold) and citrate synthase (2.1 ± 0.14-fold) was increased by PRC, as was the mtDNA:nucDNA ratio (11 ± 0.3%). PRC increased cellular respiration (142%), basal (197%) and insulin-stimulated (253%) glucose uptake, as well as palmitate uptake (28.6 ± 3.31%) and oxidation (31.1 ± 2.17%). Associated with these changes in function, PRC overexpression increased GLUT4 mRNA (4.5 ± 0.22-fold) and protein (13.8 ± 2.08%) and CPT1 protein (28.9 ± 4.23%). Electrical stimulation of C2C12 myotubes resulted in a transient increase in PRC mRNA that was smaller (2.1 ± 0.3-fold vs. 4.4 ± 0.23-fold) and occurred earlier (3 h vs. 6 h) than PGC-1α. Collectively, our data show that PRC promotes skeletal muscle myogenesis and metabolism in vitro, thus identifying PRC as a functional skeletal muscle coactivator capable of regulating mitochondrial substrate utilization and respiration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Exercise
  • Fatty acid oxidation
  • Glucose uptake
  • Metabolism
  • Muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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