Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) catalyzes the interconversion of pyruvate and lactate, which are critical fuel metabolites of skeletal muscle particularly during exercise. However, the physiological relevance of LDH remains poorly understood. Here we show that Ldhb expression is induced by exercise in human muscle and negatively correlated with changes in intramuscular pH levels, a marker of lactate production, during isometric exercise. We found that the expression of Ldhb is regulated by exercise-induced peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α). Ldhb gene promoter reporter studies demonstrated that PGC-1α activates Ldhb gene expression through multiple conserved estrogen-related receptor (ERR) and myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) binding sites. Transgenic mice overexpressing Ldhb in muscle (muscle creatine kinase (MCK)-Ldhb) exhibited increased exercise performance and enhanced oxygen consumption during exercise. MCK-Ldhb muscle was shown to have enhanced mitochondrial enzyme activity and increased mitochondrial gene expression, suggesting an adaptive oxidative muscle transformation. In addition, mitochondrial respiration capacity was increased and lactate production decreased in MCK-Ldhb skeletal myotubes in culture. Together, these results identified a previously unrecognized Ldhb-driven alteration in muscle mitochondrial function and suggested a mechanism for the adaptive metabolic response induced by exercise training.
Keywords: bioenergetics; exercise; gene regulation; mitochondria; skeletal muscle.
© 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.