A necessary role of DNMT3A in endurance exercise by suppressing ALDH1L1-mediated oxidative stress

Sneha Damal Villivalam, Scott M. Ebert, Hee Woong Lim, Jinse Kim, Dongjoo You, Byung Chul Jung, Hector H. Palacios, Tabitha Tcheau, Christopher M. Adams, Sona Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exercise can alter the skeletal muscle DNA methylome, yet little is known about the role of the DNA methylation machinery in exercise capacity. Here, we show that DNMT3A expression in oxidative red muscle increases greatly following a bout of endurance exercise. Muscle-specific Dnmt3a knockout mice have reduced tolerance to endurance exercise, accompanied by reduction in oxidative capacity and mitochondrial respiration. Moreover, Dnmt3a-deficient muscle overproduces reactive oxygen species (ROS), the major contributors to muscle dysfunction. Mechanistically, we show that DNMT3A suppresses the Aldh1l1 transcription by binding to its promoter region, altering its epigenetic profile. Forced expression of ALDH1L1 elevates NADPH levels, which results in overproduction of ROS by the action of NADPH oxidase complex, ultimately resulting in mitochondrial defects in myotubes. Thus, inhibition of ALDH1L1 pathway can rescue oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction from Dnmt3a deficiency in myotubes. Finally, we show that in vivo knockdown of Aldh1l1 largely rescues exercise intolerance in Dnmt3a-deficient mice. Together, we establish that DNMT3A in skeletal muscle plays a pivotal role in endurance exercise by controlling intracellular oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere106491
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 3 2021


  • DNA methylation
  • exercise
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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