Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.: auth.: N.Hernandez

 2018 Nov 14. pii: 201815590. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1815590115. [Epub ahead of print]

Metabolic programming a lean phenotype by deregulation of RNA polymerase III.


As a master negative regulator of RNA polymerase (Pol) III, Maf1 modulates transcription in response to nutrients and stress to balance the production of highly abundant tRNAs, 5S rRNA, and other small noncoding RNAs with cell growth and maintenance. This regulation of Pol III transcription is important for energetic economy as mice lacking Maf1 are lean and resist weight gain on normal and high fat diets. The lean phenotype of Maf1 knockout (KO) mice is attributed in part to metabolic inefficiencies which increase the demand for cellular energy and elevate catabolic processes, including autophagy/lipophagy and lipolysis. A futile RNA cycle involving increased synthesis and turnover of Pol III transcripts has been proposed as an important driver of these changes. Here, using targeted metabolomics, we find changes in the liver of fed and fasted Maf1 KO mice consistent with the function of mammalian Maf1 as a chronic Pol III repressor. Differences in long-chain acylcarnitine levels suggest that energy demand is higher in the fed state of Maf1 KO mice versus the fasted state. Quantitative metabolite profiling supports increased activity in the TCA cycle, the pentose phosphate pathway, and the urea cycle and reveals changes in nucleotide levels and the creatine system. Metabolite profiling also confirms key predictions of the futile RNA cycle hypothesis by identifying changes in many metabolites involved in nucleotide synthesis and turnover. Thus, constitutively high levels of Pol III transcription in Maf1 KO mice reprogram central metabolic pathways and waste metabolic energy through a futile RNA cycle.


Maf1; RNA polymerase III; futile cycle; metabolic inefficiency; metabolomics

PMID: 30429315