By the use of an earlier characterised cDNA clone, CIN-1, corresponding to a sequence of the mRNA coding for the brown-fat specific “uncoupling” protein, thermogenin, the amount of thermogenin mRNA found in the brown adipose tissue of mice was quantitatively investigated under different physiological and pharmacological conditions.

It was found that a 4 hr cold stress led to a 7-fold increase in the amount of thermogenin mRNA; injection of norepinephrine had a significant but smaller effect. Most notably, isoprenaline (β-agonist) and phenylephrine (α-agonist) had in themselves no effect, but when injected together were able to increase the mRNA level synergistically. In 4 hr cold-stressed mice, norepinephrine, isoprenaline and cholera toxin could all further potentiate the effect of the cold stress itself on the mRNA level. Insulin and the glucocorticoid dexamethasone both had weak stimulatory effects on the mRNA level.

It is concluded that an increase in intracellular cAMP levels is a necessary and perhaps sufficient stimulus for the increase in thermogenin gene expression. However, at least under in vivo conditions, this increase requires stimulation of both α- and β-adrenergic pathways.

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