Open Access Research article

Cross species comparison of C/EBPα and PPARγ profiles in mouse and human adipocytes reveals interdependent retention of binding sites

Søren F Schmidt1, Mette Jørgensen2, Yun Chen2, Ronni Nielsen1, Albin Sandelin2* and Susanne Mandrup1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark

2 The Bioinformatics Centre, Department of Biology and Biomedical Research and Innovation Centre, Copenhagen University, Ole Maaløs Vej 5, DK-2200, Copenhagen N, Denmark

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2011, 12:152  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-152

Published: 16 March 2011



The transcription factors peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ (PPARγ) and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein α (C/EBPα) are key transcriptional regulators of adipocyte differentiation and function. We and others have previously shown that binding sites of these two transcription factors show a high degree of overlap and are associated with the majority of genes upregulated during differentiation of murine 3T3-L1 adipocytes.


Here we have mapped all binding sites of C/EBPα and PPARγ in human SGBS adipocytes and compared these with the genome-wide profiles from mouse adipocytes to systematically investigate what biological features correlate with retention of sites in orthologous regions between mouse and human. Despite a limited interspecies retention of binding sites, several biological features make sites more likely to be retained. First, co-binding of PPARγ and C/EBPα in mouse is the most powerful predictor of retention of the corresponding binding sites in human. Second, vicinity to genes highly upregulated during adipogenesis significantly increases retention. Third, the presence of C/EBPα consensus sites correlate with retention of both factors, indicating that C/EBPα facilitates recruitment of PPARγ. Fourth, retention correlates with overall sequence conservation within the binding regions independent of C/EBPα and PPARγ sequence patterns, indicating that other transcription factors work cooperatively with these two key transcription factors.


This study provides a comprehensive and systematic analysis of what biological features impact on retention of binding sites between human and mouse. Specifically, we show that the binding of C/EBPα and PPARγ in adipocytes have evolved in a highly interdependent manner, indicating a significant cooperativity between these two transcription factors.