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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Aug;16(8):4128-36.

Induction of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma during the conversion of 3T3 fibroblasts into adipocytes is mediated by C/EBPbeta, C/EBPdelta, and glucocorticoids.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


The differentiation of 3T3 preadipocytes into adipocytes is accompanied by a transient induction of C/EBPbeta and C/EBPdelta expression in response to treatment of the cells with methylisobutylxanthine (MIX) and dexamethasone (DEX), respectively. In this report, we demonstrate that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) expression in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes is induced by MIX and DEX, suggesting that C/EBPbeta and C/EBPdelta may be involved in this process. Using a tetracycline-responsive expression system, we have recently shown that the conditional ectopic expression of C/EBPbeta in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts (beta2 cells) in the presence of DEX activates the synthesis of peroxisome PPARgamma mRNA. Subsequent exposure of these cells to PPAR activators stimulates their conversion into adipocytes; however, neither the expression of C/EBPbeta nor exposure to DEX alone is capable of inducing PPARgamma expression in the beta2 cell line. We find that unlike the case for 3T3 preadipocytes, C/EBPdelta is not induced by DEX in these 3T3 fibroblasts and therefore is not relaying the effect of this glucocorticoid to the PPARgamma gene. To define the role of glucocorticoids in regulating PPARgamma expression and the possible involvement of C/EBPdelta, we have established an additional set of NIH 3T3 cell lines expressing either C/EBPdelta alone (delta23 cells) or C/EBPdelta and C/EBPbeta together (beta/delta39 cells), using the tetracycline-responsive system. Culture of these cells in tetracycline-deficient medium containing DEX, MIX, insulin, and fetal bovine serum shows that the beta/delta39 cells express PPARgamma and aP2 mRNAs at levels that are almost equivalent to those observed in fully differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes. These levels are approximately threefold higher than their levels of expression in the beta2 cells. Despite the fact that these beta/delta39 cells produce abundant amounts of C/EBPbeta and C/EBPdelta (in the absence of tetracycline), they still require glucocorticoids to attain maximum expression of PPARgamma mRNA. Furthermore, the induction of PPARgamma mRNA by exposure of these cells to DEX occurs in the absence of ongoing protein synthesis. The delta23 cells, on the other hand, are not capable of activating PPARgamma gene expression when exposed to the same adipogenic inducers. Finally, attenuation of ectopic C/EBPbeta production at various stages during the differentiation process results in a concomitant inhibition of PPARgamma and the adipogenic program. These data strongly suggest that the induction of PPARgamma gene expression in multipotential mesenchymal stem cells (NIH 3T3 fibroblasts) is dependent on elevated levels of C/EBPbeta throughout the differentiation process, as well as an initial exposure to glucocorticoids. C/EBPdelta may function by synergizing with C/EBPbeta to enhance the level of PPARgamma expression.

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