The Journal of nutritional biochemistry

Postnatal exposure to a high-carbohydrate diet interferes epigenetically with thyroid hormone receptor induction of the adult male rat skeletal muscle glucose transporter isoform 4 expression.

PMID 25086780


Early life nutritional intervention causes adult-onset insulin resistance and obesity in rats. Thyroid hormone receptor (TR), in turn, transcriptionally enhances skeletal muscle Glut4 expression. We tested the hypothesis that reduced circulating thyroid-stimulating hormone and T4 concentrations encountered in postnatal (PN4-PN24) high-carbohydrate (HC) milk formula-fed versus the mother-fed controls (MF) would epigenetically interfere with TR induction of adult (100 days) male rat skeletal muscle Glut4 expression, thereby providing a molecular mechanism mediating insulin resistance. We observed increased DNA methylation of the CpG island with enhanced recruitment of Dnmt3a, Dnmt3b and MeCP2 in the glut4 promoter region along with reduced acetylation of histone (H)2A.Z and H4 particularly at the H4.lysine (K)16 residue, which was predominantly mediated by histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4). This was followed by enhanced recruitment of heterochromatin protein 1β to the glut4 promoter with increased Suv39H1 methylase concentrations. These changes reduced TR binding of the T3 response element of the glut4 gene (TREs; -473 to -450 bp) detected qualitatively in vivo (electromobility shift assay) and quantified ex vivo (chromatin immunoprecipitation). In addition, the recruitment of steroid receptor coactivator and CREB-binding protein to the glut4 promoter-protein complex was reduced. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments confirmed the interaction between TR and CBP to be reduced and HDAC4 to be enhanced in HC versus MF groups. These molecular changes were associated with diminished skeletal muscle Glut4 mRNA and protein concentrations. We conclude that early postnatal exposure to HC diet epigenetically reduced TR induction of adult male skeletal muscle Glut4 expression, uncovering novel molecular mechanisms contributing to adult insulin resistance and obesity.