Cytosolic acetyl-CoA synthetase (AceCS1) activates acetate to supply the cells with acetyl-CoA for lipid synthesis. The cDNA for the mammalian AceCS1 has been isolated recently, and the mRNA was shown to be negatively regulated by sterols in cultured cells. In the current study, we describe the molecular mechanisms directing the sterol-regulated expression of murine AceCS1 by cloning and functional studies of the 5′-flanking region of the AceCS1 gene. An AceCS1 promoter-reporter gene (∼2.1 kilobase pairs) was negatively regulated when sterols were added to the medium of cultured cells, and the promoter was markedly induced by co-transfection of a plasmid that expresses the transcriptionally active nuclear form of either sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP)-1a or -2 in HepG2 cells. Sequence analysis suggested that the AceCS1 promoter contains an E-box, two putative CCAAT-boxes, eight sterol regulatory element (SRE) motifs, and six GC-boxes. Gel shift assays demonstrated that all eight SRE motifs bound purified SREBP-1a in vitro with similar affinity. Luciferase reporter gene assays revealed that sterol regulation was critically dependent on three closely spaced SRE motifs and an adjacent GC-box. However, mutation of two putative upstream CCAAT-boxes did not affect SREBP dependent activation. Electrophoretic mobility " supershift" analyses confirmed that both Sp1 and Sp3 bound to the critical GC-box. In addition, transfection studies in Drosophila SL2 cells demonstrated that SREBP synergistically activated the AceCS1 promoter along with Sp1 or Sp3 but not with nuclear factor-Y.
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