Expression of uncoupling protein 1 in skeletal muscle decreases muscle energy efficiency and affects thermoregulation and substrate oxidation

Physiol Genomics. 2005 Apr 14;21(2):193-200. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00299.2004. Epub 2005 Feb 1.


Skeletal muscle uncoupling by ectopic expression of mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) has been shown to result in a lean phenotype in mice characterized by increased energy expenditure (EE), resistance to diet-induced obesity, and improved glucose tolerance. Here, we investigated in detail the effect of ectopic UCP1 expression in skeletal muscle on thermoregulation and energy homeostasis in HSA-mUCP1 transgenic mice. Thermoneutrality was determined to be approximately 30 degrees C for both wild-type (WT) and transgenic mice. EE, body temperature (Tb), activity, and respiratory quotient (RQ) were then measured over 24 h at ambient temperatures (Ta) of 30, 22, and 5 degrees C. HSA-mUCP1 transgenic mice showed increased activity-related EE and heat loss but similar basal metabolic rate compared with WT. Tb at resting periods was progressively decreased with declining Ta in HSA-mUCP1 transgenic mice but not in WT. Compared with WT littermates, the transgenic HSA-mUCP1 mice displayed increased RQ levels during night time, indicative of increased overall glucose oxidation, and failed to decrease their RQ levels with declining Ta. Thus increased EE caused by skeletal muscle uncoupling is clearly due to a decreased muscle energy efficiency during activity combined with increased glucose oxidation and a compromised thermoregulation associated with increased overall heat loss. At Tas below thermoneutrality, this puts increasing energy demands on the animals, whereas at thermoneutrality most differences in energy metabolism are not apparent any more.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Eating / genetics
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Ion Channels
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction*
  • Time Factors
  • Transgenes
  • Uncoupling Protein 1


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • UCP1 protein, human
  • Ucp1 protein, mouse
  • Uncoupling Protein 1