Unsaturated Fatty Acids Down-regulate SREBP Isoforms 1a and 1c by Two Mechanisms in HEK-293 Cells

Voe C. Hannah, Jiafu Ou, Amber Luong, Joseph L. Goldstein, Michael S. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

365 Scopus citations


Sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs) are membrane-bound transcription factors that increase the synthesis of fatty acids as well as cholesterol in animal cells. All three SREBP isoforms (SREBP-1a, -1c, and -2) are subject to feedback regulation by cholesterol, which blocks their proteolytic release from membranes. Previous data indicate that the SREBPs are also negatively regulated by unsaturated fatty acids, but the mechanism is uncertain. In the current experiments, unsaturated fatty acids decreased the nuclear content of SREBP-1, but not SREBP-2, in cultured human embryonic kidney (HEK)-293 cells. The potency of unsaturated fatty acids increased with increasing chain length and degree of unsaturation. Oleate, linoleate, and arachidonate were all effective, but the saturated fatty acids palmitate and stearate were not effective. Down-regulation occurred at two levels. The mRNAs encoding SREBP-1a and SREBP-1c were markedly reduced, and the proteolytic processing of these SREBPs was inhibited. When SREBP-1a was produced by a cDNA expressed from an independent promoter, unsaturated fatty acids reduced nuclear SREBP-1a without affecting the mRNA level. There was no effect when the cDNA encoded a truncated version that was not membrane-bound. When administered together, sterols and unsaturated fatty acids potentiated each other in reducing nuclear SREBP-1. In the absence of fatty acids, sterols did not cause a sustained reduction of nuclear SREBP-1, but they did reduce nuclear SREBP-2. We conclude that unsaturated fatty acids, as well as sterols, can down-regulate nuclear SREBPs and that unsaturated fatty acids have their greatest inhibitory effects on SREBP-1a and SREBP-1c, whereas sterols have their greatest inhibitory effects on SREBP-2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4365-4372
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 9 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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