Hepatocyte expression of the micropeptide adropin regulates the liver fasting response and is enhanced by caloric restriction

J Biol Chem. 2020 Oct 2;295(40):13753-13768. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA120.014381. Epub 2020 Jul 29.


The micropeptide adropin encoded by the clock-controlled energy homeostasis-associated gene is implicated in the regulation of glucose metabolism. However, its links to rhythms of nutrient intake, energy balance, and metabolic control remain poorly defined. Using surveys of Gene Expression Omnibus data sets, we confirm that fasting suppresses liver adropin expression in lean C57BL/6J (B6) mice. However, circadian rhythm data are inconsistent. In lean mice, caloric restriction (CR) induces bouts of compulsive binge feeding separated by prolonged fasting intervals, increasing NAD-dependent deacetylase sirtuin-1 signaling important for glucose and lipid metabolism regulation. CR up-regulates adropin expression and induces rhythms correlating with cellular stress-response pathways. Furthermore, adropin expression correlates positively with phosphoenolpyruvate carboxokinase-1 (Pck1) expression, suggesting a link with gluconeogenesis. Our previous data suggest that adropin suppresses gluconeogenesis in hepatocytes. Liver-specific adropin knockout (LAdrKO) mice exhibit increased glucose excursions following pyruvate injections, indicating increased gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is also increased in primary cultured hepatocytes derived from LAdrKO mice. Analysis of circulating insulin levels and liver expression of fasting-responsive cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) signaling pathways also suggests enhanced responses in LAdrKO mice during a glucagon tolerance test (250 µg/kg intraperitoneally). Fasting-associated changes in PKA signaling are attenuated in transgenic mice constitutively expressing adropin and in fasting mice treated acutely with adropin peptide. In summary, hepatic adropin expression is regulated by nutrient- and clock-dependent extrahepatic signals. CR induces pronounced postprandial peaks in hepatic adropin expression. Rhythms of hepatic adropin expression appear to link energy balance and cellular stress to the intracellular signal transduction pathways that drive the liver fasting response.

Keywords: circadian rhythm; diet; glucagon; glucose metabolism; hepatocyte; insulin; peptide hormone; signal transduction; stress response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Fasting*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gluconeogenesis / genetics
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (GTP) / biosynthesis
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (GTP) / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Enho protein, mouse
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Pck1 protein, mouse
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (GTP)