The role of fatty acids in the expression of the gene for liver fatty acid-binding protein (L-FABP) was investigated in the well-differentiated FAO rat hepatoma cell line. Cells were maintained in serum-free medium containing 40 µM BSA/320 µM oleate. Western blot analysis showed that oleate triggered an approx. 4-fold increase in the cytosolic L-FABP level in 16 h. Oleate specifically stimulated L-FABP mRNA in time-dependent and dose-dependent manners with a maximum 7-fold increase at 16 h in FAO cells. Preincubation of FAO cells with cycloheximide prevented the oleate-mediated induction of L-FABP mRNA, showing that protein synthesis was required for the action of fatty acids. Run-on transcription assays demonstrated that the control of L-FABP gene expression by oleate was, at least in part, transcriptional. Palmitic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid and arachidonic acid were similarly potent whereas octanoic acid was inefficient. This regulation was also found in normal hepatocytes. Therefore long-chain fatty acids are strong inducers of L-FABP gene expression. FAO cells constitute a useful tool for studying the underlying mechanism of fatty acid action.
C. M. D. and H. P. should be considered equal first authors.