FKBP51 controls cellular adipogenesis through p38 kinase-mediated phosphorylation of GRα and PPARγ

Lance A. Stechschulte, Terry D. Hinds, Saja S. Khuder, Weinian Shou, Sonia M. Najjar, Edwin R. Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoid receptor-α (GRα) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) are critical regulators of adipogenic responses.Wehave shown that FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP51) represses the Akt-p38 kinase pathway to reciprocally inhibit GRα but stimulate PPARγ by targeting serine 112 (PPARγ) and serines 220 and 234 (GRα). Here, this mechanism is shown to be essential for GRα and PPARγ control of cellular adipogenesis. In 3T3-L1 cells, FKBP51 was a prominent marker of the differentiated state and knockdown of FKBP51 showed reduced lipid accumulation and expression of adipogenic genes. Compared with wild-type (WT), FKBP51 knockout (51KO) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) showed dramatic resistance to differentiation, with almost no lipid accumulation and greatly reduced adipogenic gene expression. These features were rescued by reexpression of FKBP51 in 51KO cells. 51KO MEFs exhibited reduced fatty acid synthase activity, increased sensitivity to GRα-induced lipolysis, and reduced PPARγ activity at adipogenic genes (adiponectin, CD36, and perilipin) but elevated GRα transrepression at these same genes. A p38 kinase inhibitor increased lipid content in WT cells and also restored lipid levels in 51KO cells, showing that elevated p38 kinase activity is a major contributor to adipogenic resistance in the51KOcells. In51KOcells, the S112A mutant of PPARγand the triple S212A/S220A/S234A mutant of GRα both increased lipid accumulation, identifying these residues as targets of the FKBP51/p38 axis. Our combined investigations have uncovered FKBP51 as a key regulator of adipogenesis via the Akt-p38 pathway and as a potential target in the treatment of obesity and related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1265-1275
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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