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J Biol Chem. 1996 Jan 26;271(4):2076-81.

Triiodothyronine induces the transcription of the uncoupling protein gene and stabilizes its mRNA in fetal rat brown adipocyte primary cultures.

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  • 1Departamento de Bioquimica y Biologia Molecular II, Universidad Completense Facultad de Farmacia, Madrid, Spain.


Confluent fetal rat brown adipocytes in primary culture showed an almost undetectable level of uncoupling protein (UCP) mRNA and a low mitochondrial content of functional UCP. Treatment of confluent cells with 10 nM triiodothyronine in a serum-free medium, in the absence of noradrenergic stimulation, increased the amount of UCP mRNA in a time-dependent manner. This effect was due to an increased UCP gene transcription rate and UCP mRNA stabilization, resulting in a higher content of immunoreactive mitochondrial UCP and functional UCP (detected by its ability to bind GDP). Thus, triiodothyronine might play a significant physiological role in the UCP expression throughout fetal development, when brown adipose tissue starts to differentiate and UCP is primarily expressed.

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