Uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) dissipates the transmitochondrial proton gradient as heat. UCP2 and UCP3 are two recently discovered homologues that also have uncoupling activity and thus presumably have a role in energy homeostasis. We now report the genomic structure of murine UCP3 (7 exons) and UCP2 (8 exons). UCP3 is approximately 8 kilobases upstream of UCP2. An UCP3 variant mRNA, UCP3S, was also found and characterized. The effect of a high fat diet (45% versus 10%) on UCP3 and UCP2 mRNA levels was measured. Eating the 45% fat diet for eight weeks caused greater weight gain in AKR and C57BL/6J mice than in the obesity-resistant A/J mice. The high fat diet increased muscle UCP3 expression twofold in C57BL/6J animals. UCP2 expression increased slightly on the 45% fat diet in white adipose of AKR mice, but not in A/J or C57BL/6J mice. In skeletal muscle, UCP2 expression showed little variation with diet. Thus, UCP2 and UCP3 expression levels change in response to diet-induced obesity, but the changes are modest and depend on the tissue and genotype. The data suggest that it is not a reduction in UCP2 or UCP3 expression that causes obesity in the susceptible mice.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.