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Biochem J. 2005 Jan 1;385(Pt 1):207-16.

Insulin activates the rat sterol-regulatory-element-binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) promoter through the combinatorial actions of SREBP, LXR, Sp-1 and NF-Y cis-acting elements.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 874 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38163, USA. lcagen@utmem.edu


The enhanced synthesis of fatty acids in the liver and adipose tissue in response to insulin is critically dependent on the transcription factor SREBP-1c (sterol-regulatory-element-binding protein 1c). Insulin increases the expression of the SREBP-1c gene in intact liver and in hepatocytes cultured in vitro. To learn the mechanism of this stimulation, we analysed the activation of the rat SREBP-1c promoter and its truncated or mutated congeners driving a luciferase reporter gene in transiently transfected rat hepatocytes. The rat SREBP-1c promoter contains binding sites for LXR (liver X receptor), Sp1, NF-Y (nuclear factor-Y) and SREBP itself. We have found that each of these sites is required for the full stimulatory response of the SREBP-1c promoter to insulin. Mutation of either the putative LXREs (LXR response elements) or the SRE (sterol response element) in the proximal SREBP-1c promoter reduced the stimulatory effect of insulin by about 50%. Insulin and the LXR agonist TO901317 increased the association of SREBP-1 with the SREBP-1c promoter. Ectopic expression of LXRalpha or SREBP-1c increased activity of the SREBP-1c promoter, and this effect is further enhanced by insulin. The Sp1 and NF-Y sites adjacent to the SRE are also required for full activation of the SREBP-1c promoter by insulin. We propose that the combined actions of the SRE, LXREs, Sp1 and NF-Y elements constitute an insulin-responsive cis-acting unit of the SREBP-1c gene in the liver.

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