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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Oct 15;90(20):9606-10.

A 30-kDa alternative translation product of the CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha message: transcriptional activator lacking antimitotic activity.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.


Full-length (42 kDa) CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha (C/EBP alpha) (p42) has been implicated in the transcriptional activation of adipocyte genes including the 422(aP2) and C/EBP alpha genes during differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. We have identified a 30-kDa isoform (p30) of C/EBP alpha that is expressed by 3T3-L1 adipocytes, mouse adipose tissue, and rat liver. In vitro translation of wild-type C/EBP alpha mRNA or transient transfection with a wild-type C/EBP alpha vector gave rise to similar levels of p42 and p30. Mutational analysis revealed that p30 is an alternative translation product initiated at the third in-frame methionine codon of the C/EBP alpha message. p30C/EBP alpha binds to the C/EBP sites within and activates reporter gene expression driven by the 422(aP2) and C/EBP alpha gene promoters. Although transfection of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes with a strong p30C/EBP alpha expression vector is insufficient to induce differentiation, this vector advances the differentiation program. Unlike p42C/EBP alpha, which inhibits cell proliferation, p30C/EBP alpha is not antimitotic. Thus, the N-terminal 12-kDa segment of full-length C/EBP alpha contains an amino acid sequence necessary for antimitotic activity. During differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and during hepatocyte development, the cellular p42C/EBP alpha/p30C/EBP alpha ratio changes, raising the possibility of a regulatory role.

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