Through suppressive subtractive hybridization, we identified a new gene whose transcription is induced by sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs). The gene encodes acetyl-CoA synthetase (ACS), the cytosolic enzyme that activates acetate so that it can be used for lipid synthesis or for energy generation. ACS genes were isolated previously from yeast, but not from animal cells. Recombinant human ACS was produced by expressing the cloned cDNA transiently in human cells. After purification by nickel chromatography, the 701-amino acid cytosolic enzyme was shown to function as a monomer. The recombinant enzyme produced acetyl-CoA from acetate in a reaction that required ATP. As expected for a gene controlled by SREBPs, ACS mRNA was induced when cultured cells were deprived of sterols and repressed by sterol addition. The pattern of regulation resembled the regulation of enzymes of fatty acid synthesis. ACS mRNA was also elevated in livers of transgenic mice that express dominant-positive versions of all three isoforms of SREBP. We conclude that ACS mRNA, and hence the ability of cells to activate acetate, is regulated by SREBPs in parallel with fatty acid synthesis in animal cells.
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