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The PGC-1a gene interacts with various transcription factors (e.g., FOXO1, PPAR-alpha, delta, and gamma, LXR, and FXR), promoting the transactivation of their specific target genes. As a transcription coactivator, PGC-1a is involved in several functions related to cellular energy balance including mitochondrial biogenesis, glucose, and fatty acid metabolism, and skeletal muscle remodeling.

PGC-1a is highly expressed in skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, and brown adipose tissue, all tissues with high oxidative capacity.

PGC-1a has also induced by increased physical activity, reduced body temperature, and reduced food intake, such as during intermittent fasting.

Because of its role in pathways controlling cellular energy expenditure, genetic variants that inhibit PGC-1a has been associated with pathophysiological conditions such as type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. PQQ has been linked to increased function.