Purpose: Liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy (PH) occurs in conditions of reduced oxygen supply. HIF prolyl hydroxylase enzymes (PHD1, PHD2, and PHD3) are oxygen sensors involved in adaptive response to hypoxia. Specific functions of these PHD enzymes in liver regeneration have, however, remained enigmatic. Here, we investigated the significance of PHD1 in liver regeneration following hepatectomy.
Methods: Liver regeneration was studied in PHD1-deficient (PHD1(-/-)) and wild type (WT) mice subjected to 80% hepatectomy. For in vitro analyses, hepatocytes were isolated from PHD1(-/-) and WT livers. Cell cycle progression was studied via FACS-based analysis of nuclear DNA profile. Transcription factor binding assays, qRT-PCR, and immunoblotting were applied to study the relevance of PHD1 downstream effectors during liver regeneration.
Results: Liver regeneration was significantly enhanced in PHD1(-/-) mice compared to WT littermates. This effect was due to enhanced proliferation rather than to hypertrophy of liver cells. Cell cycle progression was significantly enhanced, and transcriptional activity of the cell cycle regulator c-Myc was increased in PHD1-deficient hepatocytes. These changes coincided with increased expression of cyclin D2, a cell cycle-promoting c-Myc target, and decreased expression of the cell cycle-delaying c-Myc target p21.
Conclusions: Loss of PHD1 enhances liver regeneration by boosting hepatocyte proliferation in a c-Myc-dependent fashion. PHD1 might, therefore, represent a potential target to facilitate liver regeneration after surgical resection.