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In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 1995 Oct;31(9):703-9.

DNA binding by C/EBP proteins correlates with hepatocyte proliferation.

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Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The leucine zipper transcription factors C/EBP alpha and C/EBP beta exhibit growth-related variations of expression and DNA binding during liver regeneration. We examined the expression of C/EBP proteins in relation to hepatocyte proliferation by studying their DNA-binding activity in primary mouse hepatocytes in vitro. Mouse hepatocytes were dissociated by collagenase perfusion and cultured in a serum-free, defined medium containing a variety of growth factors and hormones. Cell protein extracts were collected every 24 h for up to 10 d and examined for DNA-binding activity by gel retardation analysis using a C/EBP consensus sequence oligomer (bZIP). C/EBP alpha is the major bZIP-binding protein present in the dissociated cells prior to plating. With the culture conditions we employed, little or no binding of C/EBP proteins was observed in the first 24 to 48 h of cultivation. After 48 h, C/EBP beta binding activity was elevated relative to the level seen in freshly dissociated cells. In contrast, C/EBP alpha binding continued to be greatly reduced and no C/EBP delta binding was observed. C/EBP beta binding remained elevated for the duration of the experiment. Additional growth factor treatment (EGF, FGF, TGF alpha, and HGF) of the hepatocytes did not appreciably alter the pattern of C/EBP binding. However, TGF beta treatment, known to decrease hepatocyte proliferation, increased C/EBP beta binding activity earlier and more actively than in control cells. This study confirms a negative correlation between DNA binding by the C/EBP transactivator proteins and the proliferation of primary mouse hepatocytes in vitro.

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