Transcriptional control of energy homeostasis by the estrogen-related receptors

Endocr Rev. 2008 Oct;29(6):677-96. doi: 10.1210/er.2008-0017. Epub 2008 Jul 29.


Transcriptional control of cellular energy metabolic pathways is achieved by the coordinated action of numerous transcription factors and associated coregulators. Several members of the nuclear receptor superfamily have been shown to play important roles in this process because they can translate hormonal, nutrient, and metabolite signals into specific gene expression networks to satisfy energy demands in response to distinct physiological cues. Estrogen-related receptor (ERR) alpha, ERRbeta, and ERRgamma are nuclear receptors that have yet to be associated with a natural ligand and are thus considered as orphan receptors. However, the transcriptional activity of the ERRs is exquisitely sensitive to the presence of coregulatory proteins known to be essential for the control of energy homeostasis, and for all intents and purposes, these coregulators function as protein ligands for the ERRs. In particular, functional genomics and biochemical studies have shown that ERRalpha and ERRgamma operate as the primary conduits for the activity of members of the family of PGC-1 coactivators. As transcription factors, the ERRs control vast gene networks involved in all aspects of energy homeostasis, including fat and glucose metabolism as well as mitochondrial biogenesis and function. Phenotypic analyses of knockout mouse models have shown that all three ERRs are indispensable for proper development and/or survival of the organism when subjected to a variety of physiological challenges. The focus of this review is on the recent and rapid advances in understanding the functions of the ERRs in regulating bioenergetic pathways, with an emphasis on their roles in the specification of energetic properties required for cell- and tissue-specific functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocrine System / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Transcriptional Activation / physiology*


  • Receptors, Estrogen