Hepatology Communications: Dissecting the Balance Between Metabolic and Oncogenic Functions of Astrocyte-Elevated Gene-1/Metadherin (Lai Lab)

Obesity is an enormous global health problem, and obesity-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is contributing to a rising incidence and mortality for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). An increase in de novo lipogenesis and a decrease in fatty acid β-oxidation (FAO) underlie hepatic lipid accumulation in NASH. Astrocyte-elevated gene-1/metadherin (AEG-1) overexpression contributes to both NASH and HCC. AEG-1 harbors an LXXLL motif through which it blocks activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα), a key regulator of FAO. To better understand the role of the LXXLL motif in mediating AEG-1 function, using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 technology, we generated a mouse model (AEG-1-L24K/L25H) in which the LXXLL motif in AEG-1 was mutated to LXXKH. We observed increased activation of PPARα in AEG-1-L24K/L25H livers providing partial protection from high-fat diet-induced steatosis. Interestingly, even with equal gene dosage levels, compared with AEG-1–wild-type livers, AEG-1-L24K/L25H livers exhibited an increase in levels of lipogenic enzymes, mitogenic activity, and inflammation, which are attributes observed when AEG-1 is overexpressed. These findings indicate that while the LXXLL motif favors the steatotic activity of AEG-1, it keeps in check inflammatory and oncogenic functions, thus maintaining homeostasis in AEG-1 function. AEG-1 is being increasingly appreciated as a viable target for ameliorating NASH and NASH-HCC, and as such, an in-depth understanding of the functions and molecular attributes of this molecule is essential. Conclusion: The present study unravels the unique role of the LXXLL motif in mediating the balance between the metabolic and oncogenic functions of AEG-1.

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Article Categories: Research Paper