beta-Adrenergic activation of p38 MAP kinase in adipocytes: cAMP induction of the uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) gene requires p38 MAP kinase

J Biol Chem. 2001 Jul 20;276(29):27077-82. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M101049200. Epub 2001 May 21.


Because of increasing evidence that G protein-coupled receptors activate multiple signaling pathways, it becomes important to determine the coordination of these pathways and their physiological significance. Here we show that the beta(3)-adrenergic receptor (beta(3)AR) stimulates p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) via PKA in adipocytes and that cAMP-dependent transcription of the mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) promoter by beta(3)AR requires p38 MAPK. The selective beta(3)AR agonist CL316,243 (CL) stimulates phosphorylation of MAP kinase kinase 3/6 and p38 MAPK in a time- and dose-dependent manner in both white and brown adipocytes. Isoproterenol and forskolin mimicked the effect of CL on p38 MAPK. In all cases activation was blocked by the specific p38 MAPK inhibitor SB202190 (SB; 1-10 microm). The involvement of PKA in beta(3)AR-dependent p38 MAPK activation was confirmed by the ability of the PKA inhibitors H89 (20 microm) and (R(p))-cAMP-S (1 mm) to block phosphorylation of p38 MAPK. Treatment of primary brown adipocytes with CL or forskolin induced the expression of UCP1 mRNA levels (6.8- +/- 0.8-fold), and this response was eliminated by PKA inhibitors and SB202190. A similar stimulation of a 3.7-kilobase UCP1 promoter by CL and forskolin was also completely inhibited by PKA inhibitors and SB202190, indicating that these effects on UCP1 expression are transcriptional. Moreover, the PKA-dependent transactivation of the UCP1 promoter, as well as its sensitivity to SB202190, was fully reproduced by a 220-nucleotide enhancer element from the UCP1 gene. We similarly observed that increased phosphorylation of ATF-2 by CL was sensitive to both H89 and SB202190, while phosphorylation of cAMP-response element-binding protein was inhibited only by H89. Together, these studies illustrate that p38 MAPK is an important downstream target of the beta-adrenergic/cAMP/PKA signaling pathway in adipocytes, and one of the functional consequences of this cascade is stimulation of UCP1 gene expression in brown adipocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / enzymology*
  • Adrenergic beta-3 Receptor Agonists
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Colforsin / pharmacology
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology*
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Dioxoles / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-3 / physiology*
  • Uncoupling Protein 1
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases


  • Adrenergic beta-3 Receptor Agonists
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Dioxoles
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Imidazoles
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Pyridines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-3
  • Uncoupling Protein 1
  • disodium (R,R)-5-(2-((2-(3-chlorophenyl)-2-hydroxyethyl)-amino)propyl)-1,3-benzodioxole-2,3-dicarboxylate
  • Colforsin
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • 4-(4-fluorophenyl)-2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-5-(4-pyridyl)imidazole