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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jan 12;276(2):1486-93.

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha activates transcription of the brown fat uncoupling protein-1 gene. A link between regulation of the thermogenic and lipid oxidation pathways in the brown fat cell.

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Departament de Bioquimica i Biologia Molecular, Universitat de Barcelona, Avda Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.


High expression of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha) differentiates brown fat from white, and is related to its high capacity of lipid oxidation. We analyzed the effects of PPARalpha activation on expression of the brown fat-specific uncoupling protein-1 (ucp-1) gene. Activators of PPARalpha increased UCP-1 mRNA levels severalfold both in primary brown adipocytes and in brown fat in vivo. Transient transfection assays indicated that the (-4551)UCP1-CAT construct, containing the 5'-regulatory region of the rat ucp-1 gene, was activated by PPARalpha co-transfection in a dose-dependent manner and this activation was potentiated by Wy 14,643 and retinoid X receptor alpha. The coactivators CBP and PPARgamma-coactivator-1 (PGC-1), which is highly expressed in brown fat, also enhanced the PPARalpha-dependent regulation of the ucp-1 gene. Deletion and point-mutation mapping analysis indicated that the PPARalpha-responsive element was located in the upstream enhancer region of the ucp-1 gene. This -2485/-2458 element bound PPARalpha and PPARgamma from brown fat nuclei. Moreover, this element behaved as a promiscuous responsive site to either PPARalpha or PPARgamma activation, and we propose that it mediates ucp-1 gene up-regulation associated with adipogenic differentiation (via PPARgamma) or in coordination with gene expression for the fatty acid oxidation machinery required for active thermogenesis (via PPARalpha).

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