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PLoS One. 2014 Jun 24;9(6):e100862. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100862. eCollection 2014.

Nuclear MEK1 sequesters PPARγ and bisects MEK1/ERK signaling: a non-canonical pathway of retinoic acid inhibition of adipocyte differentiation.

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CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, India.


Uncontrolled adipogenesis and adipocyte proliferation have been connected to human comorbidities. Retinoic acid (RA) is known to inhibit adipocyte differentiation, however the underlying mechanisms have not been adequately understood. This study reports that RA acting as a ligand to RA receptors (RARs and RXRs) is not a sine qua non to the inhibition of adipogenesis. Our intriguing observation of a negative correlation between increased retinoylation and adipogenesis led us to explore retinoylated proteins in adipocytes. Exportin (CRM1) was found to be retinoylated, which in turn can affect the spatio-temporal regulation of the important signaling molecule mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 (MEK1), likely by disrupting its export from the nucleus. Nuclear enrichment of MEK1 physically sequesters peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ), the master regulator of adipogenesis, from its target genes and thus inhibits adipogenesis while also disrupting the MEK1-extracellular-signal regulated kinase (ERK) signaling cascade. This study is first to report the inhibition of adipocyte differentiation by retinoylation.

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