Insulin and dexamethasone induce GLUT4 gene expression in foetal brown adipocytes: synergistic effect through CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha

Rosario Hernandez, Teresa Teruel, Margarita Lorenzo
Biochemical Journal 2003 June 1, 372: 617-24
Treatment of foetal brown adipocytes in primary culture with either dexamethasone or insulin, at physiological concentrations, for 24 h up-regulates the expression of the GLUT4 gene, producing a synergistic effect on mRNA accumulation (20-fold increase), in the amount of protein in the total membrane fraction (8-fold increase) and in the transactivation of a full-promoter GLUT4 -chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene ( CAT ) construct (7-fold increase). However, GLUT1 expression remains essentially unmodified regardless of the presence of the hormones. As a consequence, exposure of brown adipocytes to dexamethasone and insulin results in a dramatic increase of glucose uptake (12-fold). Dexamethasone induces the expression of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) alpha, insulin promotes myocyte enhancer factor-2 DNA-binding activity and both combined produces a significant increase in C/EBPalpha DNA-binding activity. Moreover, co-transfection with a wild-type C/EBPalpha construct transactivates a full-promoter GLUT4 - CAT fusion gene, whereas a dominant-negative C/EBPalpha expression vector impairs the hormonal effects. Our results show that the synergism between insulin and glucocorticoids on glucose uptake is a consequence of the activation of the GLUT4 promoter by the transcription factor C/EBPalpha.

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