We have investigated the regulation of mRNA synthesis during 3T3-adipocyte differentiation by measuring the transcription of specific genes in isolated preadipocyte and adipocyte nuclei. Transcription was assayed by hybridization of newly synthesized RNA to cDNA clones coding for glycerophosphate dehydrogenase (GPD), the induced protein of 13K which is shown here to be related to myelin protein P-2, the induced protein of 28K, actin, and two RNAs that are not developmentally regulated. Transcription of GPD and 13K was observed in adipocyte but not preadipocyte nuclei. Actin was transcribed in both types of nuclei but at a lower level in adipocytes. For most of the RNAs examined, there was a consistent relationship between amounts of nuclear transcription and the abundance of the corresponding cytoplasmic mRNA in adipocytes. However, 13K and 28K mRNAs are 10-100 times more abundant than would be predicted by their nuclear transcription alone. Preliminary mRNA turnover experiments in which 5,6-dichloro-1-beta-D-ribofuranosylbenzimidazole was used to inhibit mRNA synthesis suggest that these mRNAs are much more stable in the adipocyte cytoplasm than the other mRNAs examined. These results indicate that the transcription of specific genes is increased during adipocyte differentiation and suggest that other levels of control, particularly mRNA stability, may contribute to the relative abundance of certain developmentally-regulated mRNAs in adipocytes.

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