MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is thought to be an oncomir because it promotes cancer cell proliferation, migration, and survival. miR-21 is also expressed in normal cells, but its physiological role is poorly understood. Recently, it has been found that miR-21 expression is rapidly induced in rodent hepatocytes during liver regeneration after two-thirds partial hepatectomy (2/3 PH). Here, we investigated the function of miR-21 in regenerating mouse hepatocytes by inhibiting it with an antisense oligonucleotide. To maintain normal hepatocyte viability and function, we antagonized the miR-21 surge induced by 2/3 PH while preserving baseline expression. We found that knockdown of miR-21 impaired progression of hepatocytes into S phase of the cell cycle, mainly through a decrease in levels of cyclin D1 protein, but not Ccnd1 mRNA. Mechanistically, we discovered that increased miR-21 expression facilitated cyclin D1 translation in the early phase of liver regeneration by relieving Akt1/mTOR complex 1 signaling (and thus eIF-4F–mediated translation initiation) from suppression by Rhob. Our findings reveal that miR-21 enables rapid hepatocyte proliferation during liver regeneration by accelerating cyclin D1 translation.
Raymond Ng, Guisheng Song, Garrett R. Roll, Niels M. Frandsen, Holger Willenbring
Bilirubin, a breakdown product of heme, is normally glucuronidated and excreted by the liver into bile. Failure of this system can lead to a buildup of conjugated bilirubin in the blood, resulting in jaundice. The mechanistic basis of bilirubin excretion and hyperbilirubinemia syndromes is largely understood, but that of Rotor syndrome, an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by conjugated hyperbilirubinemia, coproporphyrinuria, and near-absent hepatic uptake of anionic diagnostics, has remained enigmatic. Here, we analyzed 8 Rotor-syndrome families and found that Rotor syndrome was linked to mutations predicted to cause complete and simultaneous deficiencies of the organic anion transporting polypeptides OATP1B1 and OATP1B3. These important detoxification-limiting proteins mediate uptake and clearance of countless drugs and drug conjugates across the sinusoidal hepatocyte membrane. OATP1B1 polymorphisms have previously been linked to drug hypersensitivities. Using mice deficient in Oatp1a/1b and in the multispecific sinusoidal export pump Abcc3, we found that Abcc3 secretes bilirubin conjugates into the blood, while Oatp1a/1b transporters mediate their hepatic reuptake. Transgenic expression of human OATP1B1 or OATP1B3 restored the function of this detoxification-enhancing liver-blood shuttle in Oatp1a/1b-deficient mice. Within liver lobules, this shuttle may allow flexible transfer of bilirubin conjugates (and probably also drug conjugates) formed in upstream hepatocytes to downstream hepatocytes, thereby preventing local saturation of further detoxification processes and hepatocyte toxic injury. Thus, disruption of hepatic reuptake of bilirubin glucuronide due to coexisting OATP1B1 and OATP1B3 deficiencies explains Rotor-type hyperbilirubinemia. Moreover, OATP1B1 and OATP1B3 null mutations may confer substantial drug toxicity risks.
Evita van de Steeg, Viktor Stránecký, Hana Hartmannová, Lenka Nosková, Martin Hřebíček, Els Wagenaar, Anita van Esch, Dirk R. de Waart, Ronald P.J. Oude Elferink, Kathryn E. Kenworthy, Eva Sticová, Mohammad al-Edreesi, A.S. Knisely, Stanislav Kmoch, Milan Jirsa, Alfred H. Schinkel
Recent evidence has contradicted the prevailing view that homeostasis and regeneration of the adult liver are mediated by self duplication of lineage-restricted hepatocytes and biliary epithelial cells. These new data suggest that liver progenitor cells do not function solely as a backup system in chronic liver injury; rather, they also produce hepatocytes after acute injury and are in fact the main source of new hepatocytes during normal hepatocyte turnover. In addition, other evidence suggests that hepatocytes are capable of lineage conversion, acting as precursors of biliary epithelial cells during biliary injury. To test these concepts, we generated a hepatocyte fate-tracing model based on timed and specific Cre recombinase expression and marker gene activation in all hepatocytes of adult Rosa26 reporter mice with an adenoassociated viral vector. We found that newly formed hepatocytes derived from preexisting hepatocytes in the normal liver and that liver progenitor cells contributed minimally to acute hepatocyte regeneration. Further, we found no evidence that biliary injury induced conversion of hepatocytes into biliary epithelial cells. These results therefore restore the previously prevailing paradigms of liver homeostasis and regeneration. In addition, our new vector system will be a valuable tool for timed, efficient, and specific loop out of floxed sequences in hepatocytes.
Yann Malato, Syed Naqvi, Nina Schürmann, Raymond Ng, Bruce Wang, Joan Zape, Mark A. Kay, Dirk Grimm, Holger Willenbring
The growth arrest and DNA damage–inducible 45 (Gadd45) proteins act in many cellular processes. In the liver, Gadd45b (encoding Gadd45β) is the gene most strongly induced early during both compensatory regeneration and drug-induced hyperplasia. The latter response is associated with the dramatic and rapid hepatocyte growth that follows administration of the xenobiotic TCPOBOP (1,4-bis[2-(3,5)-dichoropyridyloxy] benzene), a ligand of the nuclear receptor constitutive androstane receptor (CAR). Here, we have shown that Gadd45b–/– mice have intact proliferative responses following administration of a single dose of TCPOBOP, but marked growth delays. Moreover, early transcriptional stimulation of CAR target genes was weaker in Gadd45b–/– mice than in wild-type animals, and more genes were downregulated. Gadd45β was then found to have a direct role in transcription by physically binding to CAR, and TCPOBOP treatment caused both proteins to localize to a regulatory element for the CAR target gene cytochrome P450 2b10 (Cyp2b10). Further analysis defined separate Gadd45β domains that mediated binding to CAR and transcriptional activation. Although baseline hepatic expression of Gadd45b was broadly comparable to that of other coactivators, its 140-fold stimulation by TCPOBOP was striking and unique. The induction of Gadd45β is therefore a response that facilitates increased transcription, allowing rapid expansion of liver mass for protection against xenobiotic insults.
Jianmin Tian, Haiyan Huang, Barbara Hoffman, Dan A. Liebermann, Giovanna M. Ledda-Columbano, Amedeo Columbano, Joseph Locker
The tumor suppressor p53 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of non-cancer-related conditions such as insulin resistance, cardiac failure, and early aging. In addition, accumulation of p53 has been observed in the hepatocytes of individuals with fibrotic liver diseases, but the significance of this is not known. Herein, we have mechanistically linked p53 activation in hepatocytes to liver fibrosis. Hepatocyte-specific deletion in mice of the gene encoding Mdm2, a protein that promotes p53 degradation, led to hepatocyte synthesis of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF; the hepatic fibrogenic master switch), increased hepatocyte apoptosis, and spontaneous liver fibrosis; concurrent removal of p53 completely abolished this phenotype. Compared with wild-type controls, mice with hepatocyte-specific p53 deletion exhibited similar levels of hepatocyte apoptosis but decreased liver fibrosis and hepatic CTGF expression in two models of liver fibrosis. The clinical significance of these data was highlighted by two observations. First, p53 upregulated CTGF in a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line by repressing miR-17-92. Second, human liver samples showed a correlation between CTGF and p53-regulated gene expression, which were both increased in fibrotic livers. This study reveals that p53 induces CTGF expression and promotes liver fibrosis, suggesting that the p53/CTGF pathway may be a therapeutic target in the treatment of liver fibrosis.
Takahiro Kodama, Tetsuo Takehara, Hayato Hikita, Satoshi Shimizu, Minoru Shigekawa, Hinako Tsunematsu, Wei Li, Takuya Miyagi, Atsushi Hosui, Tomohide Tatsumi, Hisashi Ishida, Tatsuya Kanto, Naoki Hiramatsu, Satoshi Kubota, Masaharu Takigawa, Yoshito Tomimaru, Akira Tomokuni, Hiroaki Nagano, Yuichiro Doki, Masaki Mori, Norio Hayashi
Rapamycin is an antibiotic inhibiting eukaryotic cell growth and proliferation by acting on target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase. Mammalian TOR (mTOR) is thought to work through 2 independent complexes to regulate cell size and cell replication, and these 2 complexes show differential sensitivity to rapamycin. Here we combine functional genetics and pharmacological treatments to analyze rapamycin-sensitive mTOR substrates that are involved in cell proliferation and tissue regeneration after partial hepatectomy in mice. After hepatectomy, hepatocytes proliferated rapidly, correlating with increased S6 kinase phosphorylation, while treatment with rapamycin derivatives impaired regeneration and blocked S6 kinase activation. In addition, genetic deletion of S6 kinase 1 (S6K1) caused a delay in S phase entry in hepatocytes after hepatectomy. The proliferative defect of S6K1-deficient hepatocytes was cell autonomous, as it was also observed in primary cultures and hepatic overexpression of S6K1-rescued proliferation. We found that S6K1 controlled steady-state levels of cyclin D1 (Ccnd1) mRNA in liver, and cyclin D1 expression was required to promote hepatocyte cell cycle. Notably, in vivo overexpression of cyclin D1 was sufficient to restore the proliferative capacity of S6K-null livers. The identification of an S6K1-dependent mechanism participating in cell proliferation in vivo may be relevant for cancer cells displaying high mTOR complex 1 activity and cyclin D1 accumulation.
Catherine Espeillac, Claudia Mitchell, Séverine Celton-Morizur, Céline Chauvin, Vonda Koka, Cynthia Gillet, Jeffrey H. Albrecht, Chantal Desdouets, Mario Pende
α1-Antitrypsin deficiency is an inherited condition that causes liver disease and emphysema. The normal function of this protein, which is synthesized by the liver, is to inhibit neutrophil elastase, a protease that degrades connective tissue of the lung. In the classical form of the disease, inefficient secretion of a mutant α1-antitrypsin protein (AAT-Z) results in its accumulation within hepatocytes and reduced protease inhibitor activity, resulting in liver injury and pulmonary emphysema. Because mutant protein accumulation increases hepatocyte cell stress, we investigated whether transplanted hepatocytes expressing wild-type AAT might have a competitive advantage relative to AAT-Z–expressing hepatocytes, using transgenic mice expressing human AAT-Z. Wild-type donor hepatocytes replaced 20%–98% of mutant host hepatocytes, and repopulation was accelerated by injection of an adenovector expressing hepatocyte growth factor. Spontaneous hepatic repopulation with engrafted hepatocytes occurred in the AAT-Z–expressing mice even in the absence of severe liver injury. Donor cells replaced both globule-containing and globule-devoid cells, indicating that both types of host hepatocytes display impaired proliferation relative to wild-type hepatocytes. These results suggest that wild-type hepatocyte transplantation may be therapeutic for AAT-Z liver disease and may provide an alternative to protein replacement for treating emphysema in AAT-ZZ individuals.
Jianqiang Ding, Govardhana R. Yannam, Namita Roy-Chowdhury, Tunda Hidvegi, Hesham Basma, Stephen I. Rennard, Ronald J. Wong, Yesim Avsar, Chandan Guha, David H. Perlmutter, Ira J. Fox, Jayanta Roy-Chowdhury
Systemic iron homeostasis is mainly controlled by the liver through synthesis of the peptide hormone hepcidin (encoded by Hamp), the key regulator of duodenal iron absorption and macrophage iron release. Here we show that the liver-specific microRNA miR-122 is important for regulating Hamp mRNA expression and tissue iron levels. Efficient and specific depletion of miR-122 by injection of a locked-nucleic-acid–modified (LNA-modified) anti-miR into WT mice caused systemic iron deficiency, characterized by reduced plasma and liver iron levels, mildly impaired hematopoiesis, and increased extramedullary erythropoiesis in the spleen. Moreover, miR-122 inhibition increased the amount of mRNA transcribed by genes that control systemic iron levels, such as hemochromatosis (Hfe), hemojuvelin (Hjv), bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 1A (Bmpr1a), and Hamp. Importantly, miR-122 directly targeted the 3′ untranslated region of 2 mRNAs that encode activators of hepcidin expression, Hfe and Hjv. These data help to explain the increased Hamp mRNA levels and subsequent iron deficiency in mice with reduced miR-122 levels and establish a direct mechanistic link between miR-122 and the regulation of systemic iron metabolism.
Mirco Castoldi, Maja Vujic Spasic, Sandro Altamura, Joacim Elmén, Morten Lindow, Judit Kiss, Jens Stolte, Richard Sparla, Lorenza A. D’Alessandro, Ursula Klingmüller, Robert E. Fleming, Thomas Longerich, Hermann J. Gröne, Vladimir Benes, Sakari Kauppinen, Matthias W. Hentze, Martina U. Muckenthaler
Wilson disease (WD) is a rare hereditary condition that is caused by a genetic defect in the copper-transporting ATPase ATP7B that results in hepatic copper accumulation and lethal liver failure. The present study focuses on the structural mitochondrial alterations that precede clinical symptoms in the livers of rats lacking Atp7b, an animal model for WD. Liver mitochondria from these Atp7b–/– rats contained enlarged cristae and widened intermembrane spaces, which coincided with a massive mitochondrial accumulation of copper. These changes, however, preceded detectable deficits in oxidative phosphorylation and biochemical signs of oxidative damage, suggesting that the ultrastructural modifications were not the result of oxidative stress imposed by copper-dependent Fenton chemistry. In a cell-free system containing a reducing dithiol agent, isolated mitochondria exposed to copper underwent modifications that were closely related to those observed in vivo. In this cell-free system, copper induced thiol modifications of three abundant mitochondrial membrane proteins, and this correlated with reversible intramitochondrial membrane crosslinking, which was also observed in liver mitochondria from Atp7b–/– rats. In vivo, copper-chelating agents reversed mitochondrial accumulation of copper, as well as signs of intra-mitochondrial membrane crosslinking, thereby preserving the functional and structural integrity of mitochondria. Together, these findings suggest that the mitochondrion constitutes a pivotal target of copper in WD.
Hans Zischka, Josef Lichtmannegger, Sabine Schmitt, Nora Jägemann, Sabine Schulz, Daniela Wartini, Luise Jennen, Christian Rust, Nathanael Larochette, Lorenzo Galluzzi, Veronique Chajes, Nathan Bandow, Valérie S. Gilles, Alan A. DiSpirito, Irene Esposito, Martin Goettlicher, Karl H. Summer, Guido Kroemer
Tissue homeostasis and remodeling are processes that involve high turnover of biological macromolecules. Many of the waste molecules that are by-products or degradation intermediates of biological macromolecule turnover enter the circulation and are subsequently cleared by liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC). Besides the mannose receptor, stabilin-1 and stabilin-2 are the major scavenger receptors expressed by LSEC. To more clearly elucidate the functions of stabilin-1 and -2, we have generated mice lacking stabilin-1, stabilin-2, or both stabilin-1 and -2 (Stab1–/–Stab2–/– mice). Mice lacking either stabilin-1 or stabilin-2 were phenotypically normal; however, Stab1–/–Stab2–/– mice exhibited premature mortality and developed severe glomerular fibrosis, while the liver showed only mild perisinusoidal fibrosis without dysfunction. Upon kidney transplantation into WT mice, progression of glomerular fibrosis was halted, indicating the presence of profibrotic factors in the circulation of Stab1–/–Stab2–/– mice. While plasma levels of known profibrotic cytokines were unaltered, clearance of the TGF-β family member growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) was markedly impaired in Stab1–/–Stab2–/– mice but not in either Stab1–/– or Stab2–/– mice, indicating that it is a common ligand of both stabilin-1 and stabilin-2. These data lead us to conclude that stabilin-1 and -2 together guarantee proper hepatic clearance of potentially noxious agents in the blood and maintain tissue homeostasis not only in the liver but also distant organs.
Kai Schledzewski, Cyrill Géraud, Bernd Arnold, Shijun Wang, Hermann-Josef Gröne, Tibor Kempf, Kai C. Wollert, Beate K. Straub, Peter Schirmacher, Alexandra Demory, Hiltrud Schönhaber, Alexei Gratchev, Lisa Dietz, Hermann-Josef Thierse, Julia Kzhyshkowska, Sergij Goerdt