NURR1 activation in skeletal muscle controls systemic energy homeostasis

Leonela Amoasii, Efrain Sanchez-Ortiz, Teppei Fujikawa, Joel K. Elmquist, Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Eric N. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Skeletal muscle plays a central role in the control of metabolism and exercise tolerance. Analysis of muscle enhancers activated after exercise in mice revealed the orphan nuclear receptor NURR1/NR4A2 as a prominent component of exercise-responsive enhancers. We show that exercise enhances the expression of NURR1, and transgenic overexpression of NURR1 in skeletal muscle enhances physical performance in mice. NURR1 expression in skeletal muscle is also sufficient to prevent hyperglycemia and hepatic steatosis, by enhancing muscle glucose uptake and storage as glycogen. Furthermore, treatment of obese mice with putative NURR1 agonists increases energy expenditure, improves glucose tolerance, and confers a lean phenotype, mimicking the effects of exercise. These findings identify a key role for NURR1 in governance of skeletal muscle glucose metabolism, and reveal a transcriptional link between exercise and metabolism. Our findings also identify NURR1 agonists as possible exercise mimetics with the potential to ameliorate obesity and other metabolic abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11299-11308
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2019


  • Exercise
  • Mediator complex
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Nuclear receptor
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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