Investigation of the proteomic interaction profile of uncoupling protein 3 and its effect on epigenetics

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Yan, Xiwei

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Uncoupling proteins (UCPs) are localized on the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM) and “uncouple” the electrochemical proton gradient formed by the electron transport chain (ETC) from ATP production. Though the prototypical uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is known to mediate the cold-induced thermogenesis in rodents and human neonates, the physiological and biochemical functions of the homologs UCP2-5 are still under debate. Our research focuses on UCP3, the homolog prevalently expressed in skeletal muscle (SKM), the most important metabolic organs. UCP3 has long been speculated to have a pivotal role in maintaining the mitochondrial metabolism. Several biochemical roles have been attributed to UCP3, including the regulation of fatty-acid transport and oxidation, reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging and calcium uptake. And several proteins have been identified to directly bind with UCP3 and facilitate its function. But to further understand how UCP3 relates to different aspects of mitochondrial functions, a more comprehensive profile of the UCP3 interaction partners is needed. We performed a mass spectrometry-based experiment and successfully identified a list of over 170 potential proteins that may directly or indirectly interact with UCP3, and several novel functions of UCP3 are implied by these protein-protein interactions. Additionally, researches have shown that the metabolic defects are important contributing factors to the epigenetic changes. Considering the roles of UCP3 in sustaining the normal mitochondrial metabolism, we hypothesized that UCP3 has a novel function in regulating the genomic DNA methylation processes. The data we obtained from the pilot study confirms that loss of UCP3 will lead to aberrant DNA methylation changes. But further experiment is still needed to investigate the regulatory pathway between UCP3 and DNA methylation. The physiological role of UCP3 in defending against cancer, diabetes and obesity has been investigated, but the mechanisms how UCP3 protect the organism from these diseases have not been elucidated. Our research sheds light on the understanding of UCP3 functions and may be of significant therapeutic benefit in the prevention and treatment of these diseases.



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