Deregulated MAPK Activity Prevents Adipocyte Differentiation of Fibroblasts Lacking the Retinoblastoma Protein

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A functional retinoblastoma protein (pRB) is required for adipose conversion of preadipocyte cell lines and primary mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) in response to treatment with standard adipogenic inducers. Interestingly, lack of functional pRB in MEFs was recently linked to elevated Ras activity. Ras-dependent signaling plays a significant, although incompletely understood, role in adipocyte differentiation, because activated Ras has been reported to either promote or inhibit adipogenesis depending on the cellular context. In various cell types activation of Ras leads to activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), and protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt, which exert opposing effects on adipogenesis, with ERK1/2 inhibiting and PKB/Akt promoting terminal differentiation. Here we report that the levels of activated ERK1/2 and PKB/Akt are significantly increased in pRB-deficient MEFs both before and after the addition of adipogenic inducers. Consistently, we detected higher levels of activated Ras in MEFs lacking pRB. Suppression of ERK1/2 activation by the MEK inhibitor UO126 restored the ability of pRB-deficient MEFs to undergo adipocyte differentiation, as manifested by expression of adipocyte marker genes and lipid accumulation. Furthermore and reflecting the elevated levels of activated PKB/Akt in the pRB-deficient MEFs, differentiation proceeded in an insulin-independent manner. In conclusion, we suggest that pRB plays a pivotal role in adipogenesis by suppressing MAPK activity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number29
Pages (from-to)26335-26339
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ID: 14639781