NDUFAB1 protects against obesity and insulin resistance by enhancing mitochondrial metabolism

FASEB J. 2019 Dec;33(12):13310-13322. doi: 10.1096/fj.201901117RR. Epub 2019 Sep 21.


Mitochondria are fundamental organelles for cellular and systemic metabolism, and their dysfunction has been implicated in the development of diverse metabolic diseases. Boosted mitochondrial metabolism might be able to protect against metabolic stress and prevent metabolic disorders. Here we show that NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (NDU)-FAB1, also known as mitochondrial acyl carrier protein, acts as a novel enhancer of mitochondrial metabolism and protects against obesity and insulin resistance. Mechanistically, NDUFAB1 coordinately enhances lipoylation and activation of pyruvate dehydrogenase mediated by the mitochondrial fatty acid synthesis pathway and increases the assembly of respiratory complexes and supercomplexes. Skeletal muscle-specific ablation of NDUFAB1 causes systemic disruption of glucose homeostasis and defective insulin signaling, leading to growth arrest and early death within 5 postnatal days. In contrast, NDUFAB1 overexpression effectively protects mice against obesity and insulin resistance when the animals are challenged with a high-fat diet. Our findings indicate that NDUFAB1 could be a novel mitochondrial target to prevent obesity and insulin resistance by enhancing mitochondrial metabolism.-Zhang, R., Hou, T., Cheng, H., Wang, X. NDUFAB1 protects against obesity and insulin resistance by enhancing mitochondrial metabolism.

Keywords: metabolic disorder; mitochondrial respiratory complexes; pyruvate dehydrogenase; respiratory supercomplexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Electron Transport Complex I / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Insulin
  • Protective Agents
  • Electron Transport Complex I
  • Glucose