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Differentiation. 1999 Jan;64(2):103-14.

Adipocyte differentiation is modulated by secreted delta-like (dlk) variants and requires the expression of membrane-associated dlk.

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Division of Monoclonal Antibodies, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.


Previous studies demonstrate that the delta-like (dlk) and preadipocyte factor 1 (Pref-1) genes encode similar proteins. Pref-1 is downregulated during adipocyte differentiation, and expression of ectopic Pref-1 inhibits adipogenesis. We explored whether dlk functions similarly to Pref-1 and studied the role of alternately spliced dlk variants encoding membrane-associated or -secreted forms. We also studied whether enforced downregulation of dlk/Pref-1 may enhance the differentiation response of non-committed cells. Ectopic expression of a potentially secreted dlk variant, conditioned media from dlk expressing cells or several individual epidermal-growth-factor-dlk peptides inhibited 3T3-L1 differentiation. This demonstrates that dlk and Pref-1 are functionally equivalent. dlk gene mRNA encoding for secreted variants decreased much faster than total dlk gene mRNA during differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells. In fact, total dlk or membrane-associated dlk protein expression increased during the first hours of differentiation. Cells sorted for lowest levels of dlk protein diminished or lost their ability to differentiate. These data suggest that membrane and secreted dlk protein variants play opposite roles in the control of adipogenesis. In addition, enforced downregulation of dlk protein expression in the weakly adipogenic Balb/c 3T3 cell line dramatically enhanced adipogenesis in response to insulin. These results indicate that dlk protein not only participates in processes leading to inhibition of adipogenesis but that the control of its expression and different spliced variants is essential for the adipogenic response to extracellular signals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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