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J Biol Chem. 1998 Oct 2;273(40):26138-48.

Differential stimulation of cholesterol and unsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in cells expressing individual nuclear sterol regulatory element-binding proteins.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75235, USA.


Three sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBP-1a, -1c, and -2) stimulate transcription of genes involved in synthesis and receptor-mediated uptake of cholesterol and fatty acids. Here, we explore the individual roles of each SREBP by preparing lines of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells that express graded amounts of nuclear forms of each SREBP (designated nSREBPs) under control of a muristerone-inducible nuclear receptor system. The parental hamster cell line (M19 cells) lacks its own nSREBPs, owing to a deletion in the gene encoding the Site-2 protease, which releases nSREBPs from cell membranes. By varying the concentration of muristerone, we obtained graded expression of individual nSREBPs in the range that restored lipid synthesis to near physiologic levels. The results show that nSREBP-2 produces a higher ratio of synthesis of cholesterol over fatty acids than does nSREBP-1a. This is due in part to a selective ability of low levels of nSREBP-2, but not nSREBP-1a, to activate the promoter for squalene synthase. nSREBP-1a and -2 both activate transcription of the genes encoding stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 and -2, thereby markedly enhancing the production of monounsaturated fatty acids. nSREBP-1c was inactive in stimulating any transcription at the concentrations achieved in these studies. The current data support the emerging view that the nSREBPs act in complementary ways to modulate the lipid composition of cell membranes.

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