Skeletal muscle uncoupling protein 3 (UCP3): mitochondrial uncoupling protein in search of a function

P. Schrauwen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht (NUTRIM), Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

The uncoupling protein 1 homologue, uncoupling protein 3, is able to uncouple adenosine triphosphate production from mitochondrial respiration, thereby dissipating energy as heat and affecting the efficiency of energy metabolism. Uncoupling protein 3 is expressed predominantly in skeletal muscle, and has been associated with whole-body energy metabolism. However, on the basis of present evidence it has been concluded that the primary function of uncoupling protein 3 is not in the regulation of energy expenditure. For example, fasting, an energy expenditure attenuating condition, upregulates uncoupling protein 3 expression, and uncoupling protein 3 knockout mice have a normal metabolic rate. The exact function of uncoupling protein 3 remains to be elucidated, but at present putative roles for uncoupling protein 3 include involvement in the regulation of the production of reactive oxygen species, mitochondrial fatty acid transport and the regulation of glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle. Because all these putative functions assume that uncoupling protein 3 affects mitochondrial coupling, a secondary effect of the function of uncoupling protein 3 might still be that it influences (but not regulates) energy metabolism, consistent with observations in linkage and association studies. Therefore, uncoupling protein 3 remains an interesting target for pharmacological upregulation in the treatment of obesity and diabetes.

Publication Types:
Review, Tutorial
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-270
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

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