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Mol Endocrinol. 2006 Jun;20(6):1261-75. Epub 2006 Mar 23.

The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor N-terminal domain controls isotype-selective gene expression and adipogenesis.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1662, USA.


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARgamma, PPARalpha, and PPARdelta) are important regulators of lipid metabolism. Although they share significant structural similarity, the biological effects associated with each PPAR isotype are distinct. For example, PPARalpha and PPARdelta regulate fatty acid catabolism, whereas PPARgamma controls lipid storage and adipogenesis. The different functions of PPARs in vivo can be explained at least in part by the different tissue distributions of the three receptors. The question of whether the receptors have different intrinsic activities and regulate distinct target genes, however, has not been adequately explored. We have engineered cell lines that express comparable amounts of each receptor. Transcriptional profiling of these cells in the presence of selective agonists reveals partially overlapping but distinct patterns of gene regulation by the three PPARs. Moreover, analysis of chimeric receptors points to the N terminus of each receptor as the key determinant of isotype-selective gene expression. For example, the N terminus of PPARgamma confers the ability to promote adipocyte differentiation when fused to the PPARdelta DNA binding domain and ligand binding domain, whereas the N terminus of PPARdelta leads to the inappropriate expression of fatty acid oxidation genes in differentiated adipocytes when fused to PPARgamma. Finally, we demonstrate that the N terminus of each receptor functions in part to limit receptor activity because deletion of the N terminus leads to nonselective activation of target genes. A more detailed understanding of the mechanisms by which the individual PPARs differentially regulate gene expression should aid in the design of more effective drugs, including tissue- and target gene-selective PPAR modulators.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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