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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Oct;86(19):7490-4.

Obesity-linked regulation of the adipsin gene promoter in transgenic mice.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois, Chicago 60612.


The mouse adipsin gene encodes a member of the serine protease family that is expressed predominantly in adipose tissue and is secreted into the bloodstream. Adipsin expression is sharply down-regulated in several models of genetic and acquired obesity, representing the first example of an adipocyte gene whose expression is greatly altered in this disorder. In this study, we have asked whether a DNA fragment from the adipsin gene can direct tissue-specific expression of a heterologous gene and mediate the suppression of this expression in genetic and chemically induced obesity. Transgenic mice have been constructed with 950 bases of DNA from the 5' flanking region of the adipsin gene linked to the bacterial chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene in a mouse strain bearing a recessive obesity gene (diabetes, db). By crossing db/+ transgenic mice with nontransgenic db/+ mice, we obtained progeny that allowed a direct comparison of CAT expression in the tissues of lean and obese littermates. The lean mice express CAT activity predominantly in adipose tissue, while the obese mice show a marked reduction in CAT expression relative to the lean controls. When similar experiments are performed with an adipsin-CAT fusion gene containing a heterologous AKV (AKR mouse leukemia virus) enhancer, the tissue specificity of CAT expression in lean mice is broadened to include the thymus, spleen, brain, and other tissues; down-regulation occurs in all of these tissues in mice homozygous for the obesity gene or in mice that have been injected with monosodium glutamate (MSG), which induces obesity. These results indicate that 950 bases of the 5' flanking region of the adipsin gene carry information that specifies both expression in adipose tissue and a response to a gene or chemical that induces obesity. These results also suggest that the trans-acting factors that are regulated aberrantly in these forms of obesity are not restricted to adipose tissue and could play a role in obesity-linked dysfunctions observed in other tissues as well.

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