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Mol Cell Biol. 2005 Sep;25(18):8311-22.

Transcriptional synergy and the regulation of Ucp1 during brown adipocyte induction in white fat depots.

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Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA.


Induction of brown adipocytes in white fat depots by adrenergic stimulation is a complex genetic trait in mice that affects the ability of the animal to regulate body weight. An 80-fold difference in expression of the mitochondrial uncoupling gene (Ucp1) at the mRNA and protein levels between A/J and C57BL/6J (B6) mice is controlled by allelic interactions among nine quantitative trait loci (QTLs) on eight chromosomes. Overlapping patterns of these QTLs also regulate expression levels of Pgc-1alpha, Pparalpha, and type 2 deiodinase. Independent validation that PPARalpha is associated with Ucp1 induction was obtained by treating mice with the PPARalpha agonist clofibrate, but not from the analysis of PPARalpha knockout mice. The most upstream sites of regulation for Ucp1 that differed between A/J and B6 were the phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and CREB and then followed by downstream changes in levels of mRNA for PPARgamma, PPARalpha, PGC-1alpha, and type 2 deiodinase. However, compared to Ucp1 expression, the two- to fourfold differences in the expression of these regulatory components are very modest. It is proposed that small variations in the levels of several transcriptional components of the Ucp1 enhanceosome interact synergistically to achieve large differences in Ucp1 expression.

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