Transcriptional regulation of ATP citrate-lyase (ACL, one of the lipogenic enzymes) gene by glucose/insulin, polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and leptin has been investigated in hepatocytes and adipocytes of obese Wistar fatty rats and their lean littermates. The sequence spanning nucleotides -64 to -41 of the ACL gene, which is responsive to glucose/insulin stimulation [Eur. J. Biochem. 247, 497-502, 1997], was linked to a reporter gene and transfected into rat hepatocytes or adipocytes. The chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) activities in the presence of glucose alone were similar in primary cultured cells from both obese and lean rats. In the presence of glucose/insulin, however, the CAT activities were markedly increased in the hepatocytes of lean rats, but were not significantly increased in those of obese rats. The stimulation by glucose/insulin was reduced in PUFA-treated cells of lean rats. The stimulation was also reduced in leptin-treated cells or ob gene expression vector-containing cells. However, PUFA- or leptin-treated cells from obese rats did not show a significant reduction in insulin stimulation. The same effects were observed at the endogenous mRNA and enzyme levels. Similar results were seen in adipocytes, although the stimulation and suppression levels were much smaller than in hepatocytes. The expression of endogenous insulin receptor in hepatocytes and adipocytes was reduced in the presence of leptin or PUFA. We previously found that insulin-binding capacities are also reduced in the presence of leptin or PUFA and are very low in obese rats in comparison with lean. Moreover, gel mobility shift assays using end-labeled ACL(-64/-41) revealed that nuclear factor(s) including Sp1 bind specifically to the sequence, and DNA-protein complex formation is reduced in the obese rats. Thus, the reductions in the insulin-stimulated ACL transcription may be ascribed in part to reductions in insulin binding to receptors and DNA-protein complex formation.