Skeletal muscle tissue shows an extraordinary cellular plasticity, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are still poorly understood. Here, we use a combination of experimental and computational approaches to unravel the complex transcriptional network of muscle cell plasticity centered on the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), a regulatory nexus in endurance training adaptation. By integrating data on genome-wide binding of PGC-1α and gene expression upon PGC-1α overexpression with comprehensive computational prediction of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs), we uncover a hitherto-underestimated number of transcription factor partners involved in mediating PGC-1α action. In particular, principal component analysis of TFBSs at PGC-1α binding regions predicts that, besides the well-known role of the estrogen-related receptor α (ERRα), the activator protein 1 complex (AP-1) plays a major role in regulating the PGC-1α-controlled gene program of the hypoxia response. Our findings thus reveal the complex transcriptional network of muscle cell plasticity controlled by PGC-1α.
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