Polysome profiling in liver identifies dynamic regulation of endoplasmic reticulum translatome by obesity and fasting

PLoS Genet. 2012 Aug;8(8):e1002902. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002902. Epub 2012 Aug 23.


Obesity-associated metabolic complications are generally considered to emerge from abnormalities in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, whereas the status of protein metabolism is not well studied. Here, we performed comparative polysome and associated transcriptional profiling analyses to study the dynamics and functional implications of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated protein synthesis in the mouse liver under conditions of obesity and nutrient deprivation. We discovered that ER from livers of obese mice exhibits a general reduction in protein synthesis, and comprehensive analysis of polysome-bound transcripts revealed extensive down-regulation of protein synthesis machinery, mitochondrial components, and bile acid metabolism in the obese translatome. Nutrient availability also plays an important but distinct role in remodeling the hepatic ER translatome in lean and obese mice. Fasting in obese mice partially reversed the overall translatomic differences between lean and obese nonfasted controls, whereas fasting of the lean mice mimicked many of the translatomic changes induced by the development of obesity. The strongest examples of such regulations were the reduction in Cyp7b1 and Slco1a1, molecules involved in bile acid metabolism. Exogenous expression of either gene significantly lowered plasma glucose levels, improved hepatic steatosis, but also caused cholestasis, indicating the fine balance bile acids play in regulating metabolism and health. Together, our work defines dynamic regulation of the liver translatome by obesity and nutrient availability, and it identifies a novel role for bile acid metabolism in the pathogenesis of metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Cholestasis / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P450 Family 7
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Fasting / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Obese
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Polyribosomes / metabolism*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / metabolism


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • Cytochrome P450 Family 7
  • Cyp7b1 protein, mouse
  • Glucose