ASO silencing of a glycosyltransferase, Poglut1 , improves the liver phenotypes in mouse models of Alagille syndrome

Hepatology. 2023 Apr 7. doi: 10.1097/HEP.0000000000000380. Online ahead of print.


Background and aims: Paucity of intrahepatic bile ducts (BDs) is caused by various etiologies and often leads to cholestatic liver disease. For example, in patients with Alagille syndrome (ALGS), which is a genetic disease primarily caused by mutations in jagged 1 ( JAG1) , BD paucity often results in severe cholestasis and liver damage. However, no mechanism-based therapy exists to restore the biliary system in ALGS or other diseases associated with BD paucity. Based on previous genetic observations, we investigated whether postnatal knockdown of the glycosyltransferase gene protein O -glucosyltransferase 1 ( Poglut1) can improve the ALGS liver phenotypes in several mouse models generated by removing one copy of Jag1 in the germline with or without reducing the gene dosage of sex-determining region Y-box 9 in the liver.

Approach and results: Using an ASO established in this study, we show that reducing Poglut1 levels in postnatal livers of ALGS mouse models with moderate to profound biliary abnormalities can significantly improve BD development and biliary tree formation. Importantly, ASO injections prevent liver damage in these models without adverse effects. Furthermore, ASO-mediated Poglut1 knockdown improves biliary tree formation in a different mouse model with no Jag1 mutations. Cell-based signaling assays indicate that reducing POGLUT1 levels or mutating POGLUT1 modification sites on JAG1 increases JAG1 protein level and JAG1-mediated signaling, suggesting a likely mechanism for the observed in vivo rescue.

Conclusions: Our preclinical studies establish ASO-mediated POGLUT1 knockdown as a potential therapeutic strategy for ALGS liver disease and possibly other diseases associated with BD paucity.