Mice deficient in small heterodimer partner (SHP) are protected from diet-induced hepatic steatosis resulting from increased fatty acid oxidation and decreased lipogenesis. The decreased lipogenesis appears to be a direct consequence of very low expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma 2 (PPAR-γ2), a potent lipogenic transcription factor, in the SHP(-/-) liver. The current study focused on the identification of a SHP-dependent regulatory cascade that controls PPAR-γ2 gene expression, thereby regulating hepatic fat accumulation. Illumina BeadChip array (Illumina, Inc., San Diego, CA) and real-time polymerase chain reaction were used to identify genes responsible for the linkage between SHP and PPAR-γ2 using hepatic RNAs isolated from SHP(-/-) and SHP-overexpressing mice. The initial efforts identify that hairy and enhancer of split 6 (Hes6), a novel transcriptional repressor, is an important mediator of the regulation of PPAR-γ2 transcription by SHP. The Hes6 promoter is specifically activated by the retinoic acid receptor (RAR) in response to its natural agonist ligand, all-trans retinoic acid (atRA), and is repressed by SHP. Hes6 subsequently represses hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF-4α)-activated PPAR-γ2 gene expression by direct inhibition of HNF-4α transcriptional activity. Furthermore, we provide evidences that atRA treatment or adenovirus-mediated RAR-α overexpression significantly reduced hepatic fat accumulation in obese mouse models, as observed in earlier studies, and the beneficial effect is achieved by the proposed transcriptional cascade.
Conclusions: Our study describes a novel transcriptional regulatory cascade controlling hepatic lipid metabolism that identifies retinoic acid signaling as a new therapeutic approach to nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases.
© 2014 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.