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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1994 Nov 17;1215(1-2):49-58.

Glucocorticoid and cAMP increase fatty acid synthetase mRNA in human fetal lung explants.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia 19104.


During late fetal development, synthesis of surfactant phospholipid requires a large supply of fatty acid precursor. Fatty acid synthetase is a regulatory enzyme for de novo fatty acid synthesis in lung as well as other lipogenic tissues. In this study, we report hormonal induction of FAS mRNA in human fetal lung explants (16-23 week gestation) cultured up to 7 days in Waymouth's medium (no serum) supplemented with dexamethasone (Dex, 10 nM) or agents that increase cAMP (8-Br-cAMP, 0.1 mM; isobutylmethylxanthine, 0.1 mM; forskolin, 0.01 mM; PGE1, 0.01 mM). Exposure of explants to Dex or cAMP agents increased FAS mRNA content by 6 h and maximal stimulation occurred at 72 h for Dex (approx. 3-fold increase) and 24 h for cAMP (approx. 2-fold increase). In the presence of both Dex and cAMP there was a synergistic increase in FAS mRNA content at all times (approx. 11-fold increase at 72 h). Induction of FAS mRNA was specific for steroids with glucocorticoid activity, reversible on removal of hormone, and was half-maximal at 2-3 nM Dex consistent with receptor mediation. Actinomycin D blocked induction by Dex but not by cAMP suggesting a transcriptional effect by glucocorticoid but not by cAMP. T3, which increases phosphatidylcholine synthesis, did not induce FAS mRNA. The findings indicate that both glucocorticoid and cAMP increase FAS gene expression consistent with an important role for FAS in regulating the supply of fatty acid for surfactant phospholipid synthesis.

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