GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cell Biology


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Anthony N. Imbalzano, Ph.D.


Transcription Factors, Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly, Cell Differentiation, Adipogenesis, PPAR gamma, CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins


Chromatin has a compact organization in which most DNA sequences are structurally inaccessible and functionally inactive. Reconfiguration of thechromatir required to activate transcription. This reconfiguration is achieved by the action of enzymes that covalently modify nucleosomal core histones, and by enzymes that disrupt histone-DNA interactions via ATP hydrolysis.

TheSWI/SNF family of ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling enzymes has been implicated not only in gene activation but also in numerous cellular processes including differentiation, gene repression, cell cycle control, recombination and DNA repair. PPARγ, C/EBPα and C/EBPβ are transcription factors with well established roles in adipogenesis. Ectopical expression of each of these factors in non-adipogenic cells is sufficient to convert them to adipocyte-like cells.

To determine the requirements of SWI/SNF enzymes in adipocyte differentiation, we introduced PPARγ, C/EBPα or C/EBPβ into fibroblasts that inducibly express dominant-negative versions of the Brahma-Related Gene 1 (BRG1) or human Brahma (BRM), which are the ATPase subunits of the SWI/SNF enzymes. We found that adipogenesis and expression of adipocyte genes were inhibited in the presence of mutant SWI/SNF enzymes. Additionally, in cells expressing C/EBPα or C/EBPβ, PPARγ expression was SWI/SNF dependent. These data indicate the importance of these remodeling enzymes in both early and late gene activation events.

Subsequently, we examined by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay the functional role of SWI/SNF enzymes in the activation of PPARγ2, the master regulator of adipogenesis. Temporal analysis of factors binding to the PPARγ2 promoter showed that SWI/SNF enzymes are required to promote preinitiation complex assembly and function.

Additionally, our studies concentrated on the role of C/EBP family members in the activation of early and late genes during adipocyte differentiation. During adipogenesis, C/EBPβ and δ are rapidly and transiently expressed and are involved in the expression of PPARγ and C/EBPα, which together activate the majority of the adipocyte genes. Our studies determined the temporal recruitment of the C/EBP family at the promoters of early and late genes by ChIP assay during adipocyte differentiation. We found that all of the C/EBP members evaluated are present at the promoters of early and late genes, and the binding correlated with the kinetics of the C/EBPs expression. Binding of C/EBPβ and δ is transient, subsequently being replaced by C/EBPα. These studies demonstrated that C/EBPβ and δ are not only involved in the regulation of PPARγ and C/EBPα, but also in the activation of late expressed adipocyte genes.



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