Key role of the ERK1/2 MAPK pathway in the transcriptional regulation of the Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase (SCD1) gene expression in response to leptin

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2010 May 5;319(1-2):116-28. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2010.01.027. Epub 2010 Jan 28.


Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase-1 (SCD1) is the rate limiting enzyme catalyzing the synthesis of monounsaturated fatty acids. Variation of SCD1 activity and the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids have been implicated in a variety of diseases including obesity, type II diabetes and cancers. In liver, many factors regulate SCD1 expression including dietary and hormonal factors such as insulin and leptin. We previously showed in hepatic cells that insulin acts through the PI3K and mTOR pathways to upregulate SCD1 expression. In the present study, using HepG2 cells, we characterized the signaling pathway mediating the leptin inhibitory response on SCD1 gene expression. We showed that leptin inhibits SCD1 at the transcriptional level. Inhibition of the ERK1/2 MAPK pathway with the PD98059 reverses the effect of leptin on SCD1 expression. Our data also demonstrated that the effect of leptin is entirely independent of the effect of insulin. Using the pharmaceutical inhibitors Ag490 and SL0101, we showed that the inhibitory effect of leptin is also mediated by the Janus Kinase 2 (Jak2) and p90RSK. EMSA and transfection experiments suggest a key role for the Sp1 transcription factor, which in turn may compete for the binding of other transcription factors such as AP-1, leading to the inhibition of SCD1 transcription. Taken together, our observations showed that, independently of insulin action, leptin exerts an inhibitory effect on SCD1 transcription via a signaling pathway implicating Jak2, ERK1/2, and p90RSK which probably targets the downstream transcription factor Sp1 on the SCD1 promoter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Janus Kinase 2 / metabolism
  • Leptin / pharmacology*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / drug effects
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / physiology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / genetics*
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology*


  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase
  • Janus Kinase 2
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases