Palmitate-Induced SREBP1 Expression and Activation Underlies the Increased BACE 1 Activity and Amyloid Beta Genesis

  • Gurdeep Marwarha
  • Kate Claycombe-Larson
  • Jonah Lund
  • Othman GhribiEmail author


Numerous cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have implicated saturated fat-enriched diets in the etio-pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Emerging evidence shows that saturated fat-enriched diets, such as palmitate-enriched diets, increase amyloid-beta (Aβ) production, the histopathological hallmark of AD. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie the deleterious effects of palmitate-enriched diets in the augmentation of Aβ genesis are yet to be characterized. Sterol response element binding protein 1 (SREBP1) is a transcription factor that is modulated by saturated fatty acids, such as palmitate, and consequently regulates the expression of genes that code for proteins involved in almost all facets of lipid metabolism. Herein, we determined the role of changes in SREBP1 expression and transcriptional activity in the palmitate-induced effects on Aβ genesis and BACE1 expression, the enzyme that catalyzes the rate-limiting step in Aβ biosynthesis. We demonstrate that palmitate-induced SREBP1 activation directly regulates BACE1 expression at the transcriptional level in the mouse hippocampus and mouse Neuro-2a (N2a) neuroblastoma cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) studies show that palmitate increases the binding of SREBP1 to the Bace1 promoter region in the mouse hippocampus and mouse N2a neuroblastoma cells. Ectopic expression of the dominant negative SREBP1 mutant and knocking-down SREBP1 expression significantly reduced the palmitate-induced increase in BACE1 expression and subsequent Aβ genesis in mouse N2a neuroblastoma cells. Our study unveils SREBP1 activation as a novel molecular player in the palmitate-induced upregulation of BACE1 expression and subsequent Aβ genesis.


Aβ Alzheimer’s disease BACE 1 Palmitate Saturated free fatty acids SREBP1 


amyloid beta


amyloid beta precursor protein


Alzheimer’s disease


β-site AβPP cleaving enzyme 1


C/EBP homologous protein


chromatin immunoprecipitation


endoplasmic reticulum


liver X receptor alpha


Neuro-2a mouse neuroblastoma cells


nuclear receptor coactivator


neurofibrillary tangles


palmitic acid


saturated free fatty acids


steroid receptor coactivator


sterol response element


sterol response element binding protein


western blotting


Funding Information

This work was supported by a Grant from the National Institute of Health (R01AG045264) to Dr. Othman Ghribi.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval of Animal Studies

All animal procedures and studies carried out were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the University of North Dakota. All animal procedures and studies were carried out in accordance with the U.S Public Health Service’s “Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals” and “Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals”. All animal procedures and studies carried out are in compliance with the U.S National Research Council’s “Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.”

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine & Health SciencesUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research ServiceGrand Forks Human Nutrition Research CenterGrand ForksUSA

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