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J Mol Biol. 2012 Mar 16;417(1-2):36-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2012.01.035. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

DLK2 is a transcriptional target of KLF4 in the early stages of adipogenesis.

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Departamento de Química Inorgánica, Orgánica y Bioquímica, Facultad de Medicina/Centro Regional de Investigaciones Biomédicas (CRIB), Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, 02006 Albacete, Spain.


The epidermal growth factor-like protein DLK2, highly homologous to DLK1, has been identified as a modulator of adipogenesis in vitro. Knocking down Dlk2 expression prevents adipogenesis of 3T3-L1 cells but enhances that of the mesenchymal cell line C3H10T1/2. The expression of Dlk2 shows two peaks along this differentiation process: the first one, in response to 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX) and dexamethasone (Dex), and the second, shortly after exposure to insulin. Nothing is known about the transcriptional regulation of Dlk2 during adipogenesis. Here, we report that, during early adipogenesis of 3T3-L1 cells, Dlk2 expression is controlled independently by IBMX and Dex. We also show that KLF4, a transcription factor critical for the control of early adipogenesis, binds directly to the Dlk2 promoter and increases Dlk2 expression in response to IBMX. Overexpression of KLF4 leads to an increase in DLK2 expression levels, whereas KLF4 knockdown downregulates the transcriptional activity of the Dlk2 promoter. Finally, we demonstrate that KLF4 regulates the basal expression of Dlk2 in C3H10T1/2 cells, and it is required for the adipogenic differentiation of those cells. These results indicate that KLF4 mediates the transcriptional regulation of Dlk2 in response to IBMX during the early stages of adipogenesis.

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