In order to elucidate energy balance in the skeletal muscle, we cloned cDNA of a homologue of uncoupling protein (UCP) from rat skeletal muscle. We also cloned rat UCP-2 cDNA from rat brown adipose tissue (BAT). The UCP cloned from rat skeletal muscle showed 57% and 72% identity with rat UCP-1 and UCP-2. The mRNA was expressed abundantly in the skeletal muscle, moderately in the BAT, and slightly in the white adipose tissue (WAT) with a major band at 2.5 kb and a minor band at 2.8 kb, while the UCP-2 gene expression was widely detected in the whole body with substantial levels in the WAT and with slight levels in the skeletal muscle and BAT. The rat UCP cloned in the present study showed 86% identity with the recently cloned human UCP-3, which was also expressed abundantly in the skeletal muscle with a signal of 2.4 kb. Therefore, the rat UCP was considered to be rat UCP-3. In rats fed high-fat diet the UCP-3 gene expression was augmented 2-fold in the skeletal muscle while UCP-2 mRNA levels were increased significantly (1.6-fold) in the epididymal WAT. Augmented expression of UCPs may provide defense against high-fat induced obesity and impairment of glucose metabolism.
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