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Mol Endocrinol. 2004 Apr;18(4):807-19.

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1alpha, as a transcription amplifier, is not essential for basal and hormone-induced phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase gene expression.

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Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 707 Light Hall, Nashville, TN 37232-0615, USA.


Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) catalyzes the initial step in hepatic gluconeogenesis. In the fasted state, PEPCK gene expression is activated by glucagon (via cAMP) and glucocorticoids. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1alpha (PGC-1alpha) plays an important role in energy homeostasis and is considered to be a key regulator of hepatic gluconeogenesis in response to fasting. It is not clear whether PGC-1alpha is obligatory for the activation of the transcription program of gluconeogenic genes, or whether it amplifies an existing process. H4IIE hepatoma cells were used to address this key point. These cells respond appropriately to all of the hormones involved in the regulation of gluconeogenic genes, yet they are devoid of PGC-1alpha. Also, these hormone responses occur in the absence of ongoing protein synthesis, so the necessary complement of transcription factors exists in untreated cells. However, exogenous expression of PGC-1alpha in these cells does enhance basal and hormone-induced expression of the PEPCK and glucose-6-phosphatase genes. Mutational analyses of the PEPCK gene promoter reveal that one element in the PEPCK gene promoter, glucocorticoid accessory factor 3, which binds chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor, is of particular importance. Taken together, these data suggest that, under chronic fasting conditions, i.e. when high levels of cAMP and glucocorticoids induce PGC-1alpha expression, this coactivator markedly amplifies PEPCK gene expression and gluconeogenesis.

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