Regulation of fatty acid synthase expression in breast cancer by sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c

Exp Cell Res. 2003 Jan 15;282(2):132-7. doi: 10.1016/s0014-4827(02)00023-x.


Activation of fatty acid synthase (FAS) expression and fatty acid synthesis is a common event in human breast cancer. Sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) are a family of transcription factors that regulate genes involved in lipid metabolism, including FAS. SREBP-1c expression is induced in liver and adipose tissue by insulin and by fasting/refeeding and is critical for nutritional regulation of lipogenic gene expression. In contrast, upregulation of fatty acid metabolism during in vitro transformation of human mammary epithelial cells and in breast cancer cells was driven by increased MAP kinase and PI 3-kinase signaling, which increased SREBP-1 levels. SREBP-1a was more abundant than SREBP-1c in many proliferative tissues and cultured cells and was thus a candidate to regulate lipogenesis for support of membrane synthesis during cell growth. We now show that SREBP-1c and FAS mRNA were both increased by H-ras transformation of MCF-10a breast epithelial cells and were both reduced by exposure of MCF-7 breast cancer cells to the MAP kinase inhibitor, PD98059, or the PI 3-kinase inhibitor, wortmannin, while SREBP-1a and SREBP-2 showed less variation. Similarly, the mRNA levels for FAS and SREBP-1c in a panel of primary human breast cancer samples showed much greater increases than did those for SREBP-1a and SREBP-2 and were significantly correlated with each other, suggesting coordinate regulation of SREBP-1c and FAS in clinical breast cancer. We conclude that regulation of FAS expression in breast cancer is achieved through modulation of SREBP-1c, similar to the regulation in liver and adipose tissue, although the upstream regulation of liopgenesis differs in these tissues.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / biosynthesis*
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Protein Isoforms / biosynthesis
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Protein 1
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SREBF1 protein, human
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Protein 1
  • Transcription Factors
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Fatty Acid Synthases