Renal Physiology

SREBP-1 activation by glucose mediates TGF-β upregulation in mesangial cells

Lalita Uttarwar, Bo Gao, Alistair J. Ingram, Joan C. Krepinsky


Glomerular matrix accumulation is a hallmark of diabetic nephropathy. Recent studies showed that overexpression of the transcription factor sterol-responsive element-binding protein (SREBP)-1 induces pathology reminiscent of diabetic nephropathy, and SREBP-1 upregulation was observed in diabetic kidneys. We thus studied whether SREBP-1 is activated by high glucose (HG) and mediates its profibrogenic responses. In primary rat mesangial cells, HG activated SREBP-1 by 30 min, seen by the appearance of its cleaved nuclear form (nSREBP-1), EMSA, and by activation of an SREBP-1 response element (SRE)-driven green fluorescent protein construct. Activation was dose dependent and not induced by an osmotic control. Site 1 protease was required, since its inhibition by AEBSF prevented SREBP-1 activation. SCAP, the ER-associated chaperone for SREBP-1, was also necessary since its inhibitor fatostatin also blocked SREBP-1 activation. Signaling through the EGFR/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, which we previously showed mediates HG-induced TGF-β1 upregulation, and through RhoA, were upstream of SREBP-1 activation (Wu D, Peng F, Zhang B, Ingram AJ, Gao B, Krepinsky JC. Diabetologia 50: 2008–2018, 2007; Wu D, Peng F, Zhang B, Ingram AJ, Kelly DJ, Gilbert RE, Gao B, Krepinsky JC. J Am Soc Nephrol 20: 554–566, 2009). Fatostatin and AEBSF prevented HG-induced TGF-β1 upregulation by Northern blot analysis, and HG-induced TGF-β1 promoter activation was inhibited by both fatostatin and dominant negative SREBP-1a. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis confirmed that HG led to SREBP-1 binding to the TGF-β1 promoter in a region containing a putative SREBP-1 binding site (SRE). Thus HG-induced SREBP-1 activation requires EGFR/PI3K/RhoA signaling and SCAP-mediated transport to the Golgi for its proteolytic cleavage. Activated SREBP-1 binds to the TGF-β promoter, resulting in TGF-β1 upregulation in response to HG. SREBP-1 thus provides a potential novel therapeutic target for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy.

  • epidermal growth factor receptor
  • transforming growth factor-β1 promoter
  • phosphoinositide 3-kinase
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