Activation of MEK/ERK signaling promotes adipogenesis by enhancing peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) and C/EBPα gene expression during the differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes

Deepanwita Prusty, Bae Hang Park, Kathryn E. Davis, Stephen R. Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

356 Scopus citations


We demonstrate that exposure of post-confluent 3T3-L1 preadipocytes to insulin, isobutylmethylxanthine (MIX), dexamethasone (DEX), and fetal bovine serum induces a rapid but transient activation of MEK1 as indicated by extensive phosphorylation of ERK1 and ERK2 during the initial 2 h of adipogenesis. Inhibition of this activity by treating the cells with a MEK1-specific inhibitor (U0126 or PD98059) prior to the induction of differentiation significantly attenuated the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ, CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) α, perilipin, and adipocyte-specific fatty acid-binding protein (aP2). Treating the preadipocytes with troglitazone, a potent PPARγ ligand, could circumvent the inhibition of adipogenic gene expression by U0126. Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), in the presence of dexamethasone, isobutylmethylxanthine, and insulin, induces a prolonged activation of the MEK/ERK signaling pathway, which lasts for at least 12 h post-induction, and this activity is less sensitive to the MEK inhibitors. Consequently, preadipocytes treated with U0126 in the presence of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) express normal post-induction levels of MEK activity, and, in so doing, are capable of undergoing adipogenesis. We further show that activation of MEK1 significantly enhances the transactivation of the C/EBPα minimal promoter during the early phase of the differentiation process. Our results suggest that activation of the MEK/ERK signaling pathway during the initial 12 h of adipogenesis enhances the activity of factors that regulate both C/EBPα and PPARγ expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46226-46232
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - Nov 29 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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