Background and aims: Liver receptor homolog-1 (LRH-1; NR5A2) is a nuclear receptor that regulates metabolic homeostasis in the liver. Previous studies identified phosphatidylcholines as potential endogenous agonist ligands for LRH-1. In the liver, distinct subsets of phosphatidylcholine species are generated by two different pathways: choline addition to phosphatidic acid through the Kennedy pathway and trimethylation of phosphatidylethanolamine through phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyl transferase (PEMT).
Approach and results: Here, we report that a PEMT-LRH-1 pathway specifically couples methyl metabolism and mitochondrial activities in hepatocytes. We show that the loss of Lrh-1 reduces mitochondrial number, basal respiration, beta-oxidation, and adenosine triphosphate production in hepatocytes and decreases expression of mitochondrial biogenesis and beta-oxidation genes. In contrast, activation of LRH-1 by its phosphatidylcholine agonists exerts opposite effects. While disruption of the Kennedy pathway does not affect the LRH-1-mediated regulation of mitochondrial activities, genetic or pharmaceutical inhibition of the PEMT pathway recapitulates the effects of Lrh-1 knockdown on mitochondria. Furthermore, we show that S-adenosyl methionine, a cofactor required for PEMT, is sufficient to induce Lrh-1 transactivation and consequently mitochondrial biogenesis.
Conclusions: A PEMT-LRH-1 axis regulates mitochondrial biogenesis and beta-oxidation in hepatocytes.
© 2019 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.