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1.  Effects of hepatocyte nuclear factor-1A and -4A on pancreatic stone protein/regenerating protein and C-reactive protein gene expression: implications for maturity-onset diabetes of the young 
There is a significant clinical overlap between patients with hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-1A and HNF4A maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), two forms of monogenic diabetes. HNF1A and HNF4A are transcription factors that control common and partly overlapping sets of target genes. We have previously shown that elevated serum pancreatic stone protein / regenerating protein A (PSP/reg1A) levels can be detected in subjects with HNF1A-MODY. In this study, we investigated whether PSP/reg is differentially regulated by HNF1A and HNF4A.
Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and Western blotting were used to validate gene and protein expression in cellular models of HNF1A- and HNF4A-MODY. Serum PSP/reg1A levels and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured by ELISA in 31 HNF1A- and 9 HNF4A-MODY subjects. The two groups were matched for age, body mass index, diabetes duration, blood pressure, lipid profile and aspirin and statin use.
Inducible repression of HNF1A and HNF4A function in INS-1 cells suggested that PSP/reg induction required HNF4A, but not HNF1A. In contrast, crp gene expression was significantly reduced by repression of HNF1A, but not HNF4A function. PSP/reg levels were significantly lower in HNF4A subjects when compared to HNF1A subjects [9.25 (7.85-12.85) ng/ml vs. 12.5 (10.61-17.87) ng/ml, U-test P = 0.025]. hsCRP levels were significantly lower in HNF1A-MODY [0.22 (0.17-0.35) mg/L] compared to HNF4A-MODY group [0.81 (0.38-1.41) mg/L, U-test P = 0.002], Parallel measurements of serum PSP/reg1A and hsCRP levels were able to discriminate HNF1A- and HNF4A-MODY subjects.
Our study demonstrates that two distinct target genes, PSP/reg and crp, are differentially regulated by HNF1A and HNF4A, and provides clinical proof-of-concept that serum PSP/reg1A and hsCRP levels may distinguish HNF1A-MODY from HNF4A-MODY subjects.
PMCID: PMC3707779  PMID: 23803251
HNF1A; HNF4A; MODY; PSP/reg; HsCRP; Gene regulation
2.  Hepatic function in a family with a nonsense mutation (R154X) in the hepatocyte nuclear factor-4alpha/MODY1 gene. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;100(6):1400-1405.
Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a genetically heterogeneous monogenic disorder characterized by autosomal dominant inheritance, onset usually before 25 yr of age, and abnormal pancreatic beta-cell function. Mutations in the hepatocyte nuclear factor(HNF)-4alpha/MODY1, glucokinase/MODY2, and HNF-1alpha/MODY3 genes can cause this form of diabetes. In contrast to the glucokinase and HNF-1alpha genes, mutations in the HNF-4alpha gene are a relatively uncommon cause of MODY, and our understanding of the MODY1 form of diabetes is based on studies of only a single family, the R-W pedigree. Here we report the identification of a second family with MODY1 and the first in which there has been a detailed characterization of hepatic function. The affected members of this family, Dresden-11, have inherited a nonsense mutation, R154X, in the HNF-4alpha gene, and are predicted to have reduced levels of this transcription factor in the tissues in which it is expressed, including pancreatic islets, liver, kidney, and intestine. Subjects with the R154X mutation exhibited a diminished insulin secretory response to oral glucose. HNF-4alpha plays a central role in tissue-specific regulation of gene expression in the liver, including the control of synthesis of proteins involved in cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism and the coagulation cascade. Subjects with the R154X mutation, however, showed no abnormalities in lipid metabolism or coagulation except for a paradoxical 3.3-fold increase in serum lipoprotein(a) levels, nor was there any evidence of renal dysfunction in these subjects. The results suggest that MODY1 is primarily a disorder of beta-cell function.
PMCID: PMC508318  PMID: 9294105
3.  INS-1 Cells Undergoing Caspase-Dependent Apoptosis Enhance the Regenerative Capacity of Neighboring Cells 
Diabetes  2010;59(11):2799-2808.
In diabetes, β-cell mass is not static but in a constant process of cell death and renewal. Inactivating mutations in transcription factor 1 (tcf-1)/hepatocyte nuclear factor1a (hnf1a) result in decreased β-cell mass and HNF1A–maturity onset diabetes of the young (HNF1A-MODY). Here, we investigated the effect of a dominant-negative HNF1A mutant (DN-HNF1A) induced apoptosis on the regenerative capacity of INS-1 cells.
DN-HNF1A was expressed in INS-1 cells using a reverse tetracycline-dependent transactivator system. Gene(s)/protein(s) involved in β-cell regeneration were investigated by real-time quantitative RT-PCR, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. Pancreatic stone protein/regenerating protein (PSP/reg) serum levels in human subjects were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
We detected a prominent induction of PSP/reg at the gene and protein level during DN-HNF1A–induced apoptosis. Elevated PSP/reg levels were also detected in islets of transgenic HNF1A-MODY mice and in the serum of HNF1A-MODY patients. The induction of PSP/reg was glucose dependent and mediated by caspase activation during apoptosis. Interestingly, the supernatant from DN-HNF1A–expressing cells, but not DN-HNF1A–expressing cells treated with zVAD.fmk, was sufficient to induce PSP/reg gene expression and increase cell proliferation in naïve, untreated INS-1 cells. Further experiments demonstrated that annexin-V–positive microparticles originating from apoptosing INS-1 cells mediated the induction of PSP/reg. Treatment with recombinant PSP/reg reversed the phenotype of DN-HNF1A–induced cells by stimulating cell proliferation and increasing insulin gene expression.
Our results suggest that apoptosing INS-1 cells shed microparticles that may stimulate PSP/reg induction in neighboring cells, a mechanism that may facilitate the recovery of β-cell mass in HNF1A-MODY.
PMCID: PMC2963538  PMID: 20682686
4.  Circulating CD36 Is Reduced in HNF1A-MODY Carriers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74577.
Premature atherosclerosis is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY) accounts for approximately 2% of all diabetes, with mutations in the transcription factor; hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 alpha (HNF1A) accounting for the majority of MODY cases. There is somewhat limited data available on the prevalence of macrovascular disease in HNF1A-MODY carriers with diabetes. Marked insulin resistance and the associated dyslipidaemia are not clinical features of HNF1A-MODY carriers. The scavenger protein CD36 has been shown to play a substantial role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, largely through its interaction with oxidised LDL. Higher levels of monocyte CD36 and plasma CD36(sCD36) are seen to cluster with insulin resistance and diabetes. The aim of this study was to determine levels of sCD36 in participants with HNF1A-MODY diabetes and to compare them with unaffected normoglycaemic family members and participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
We recruited 37 participants with HNF1A-MODY diabetes and compared levels of sCD36 with BMI-matched participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus and normoglycaemic HNF1A-MODY negative family controls. Levels of sCD36 were correlated with phenotypic and biochemical parameters.
HNF1A-MODY participants were lean, normotensive, with higher HDL and lower triglyceride levels when compared to controls and participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus. sCD36 was also significantly lower in HNF1A-MODY participants when compared to both the normoglycaemic family controls and to lean participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
In conclusion, sCD36 is significantly lower in lean participants with HNF1A-MODY diabetes when compared to weight-matched normoglycaemic familial HNF1A-MODY negative controls and to lean participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Lower levels of this pro-atherogenic marker may result from the higher HDL component in the lipid profile of HNF1A-MODY participants.
PMCID: PMC3771933  PMID: 24069322
5.  High-Sensitivity CRP Discriminates HNF1A-MODY From Other Subtypes of Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(8):1860-1862.
Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) as a result of mutations in hepatocyte nuclear factor 1-α (HNF1A) is often misdiagnosed as type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Recent work has shown that high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels are lower in HNF1A-MODY than type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or glucokinase (GCK)-MODY. We aim to replicate these findings in larger numbers and other MODY subtypes.
hs-CRP levels were assessed in 750 patients (220 HNF1A, 245 GCK, 54 HNF4-α [HNF4A], 21 HNF1-β (HNF1B), 53 type 1 diabetes, and 157 type 2 diabetes).
hs-CRP was lower in HNF1A-MODY (median [IQR] 0.3 [0.1–0.6] mg/L) than type 2 diabetes (1.40 [0.60–3.45] mg/L; P < 0.001) and type 1 diabetes (1.10 [0.50–1.85] mg/L; P < 0.001), HNF4A-MODY (1.45 [0.46–2.88] mg/L; P < 0.001), GCK-MODY (0.60 [0.30–1.80] mg/L; P < 0.001), and HNF1B-MODY (0.60 [0.10–2.8] mg/L; P = 0.07). hs-CRP discriminated HNF1A-MODY from type 2 diabetes with hs-CRP <0.75 mg/L showing 79% sensitivity and 70% specificity (receiver operating characteristic area under the curve = 0.84).
hs-CRP levels are lower in HNF1A-MODY than other forms of diabetes and may be used as a biomarker to select patients for diagnostic HNF1A genetic testing.
PMCID: PMC3142017  PMID: 21700917
6.  Pancreatic stone protein as an early biomarker predicting mortality in a prospective cohort of patients with sepsis requiring ICU management 
Critical Care  2012;16(4):R114.
Biomarkers, such as C-reactive protein [CRP] and procalcitonin [PCT], are insufficiently sensitive or specific to stratify patients with sepsis. We investigate the prognostic value of pancreatic stone protein/regenerating protein (PSP/reg) concentration in patients with severe infections.
PSP/reg, CRP, PCT, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 1 beta (IL1-β), IL-6 and IL-8 were prospectively measured in cohort of patients ≥ 18 years of age with severe sepsis or septic shock within 24 hours of admission in a medico-surgical intensive care unit (ICU) of a community and referral university hospital, and the ability to predict in-hospital mortality was determined.
We evaluated 107 patients, 33 with severe sepsis and 74 with septic shock, with in-hospital mortality rates of 6% (2/33) and 25% (17/74), respectively. Plasma concentrations of PSP/reg (343.5 vs. 73.5 ng/ml, P < 0.001), PCT (39.3 vs. 12.0 ng/ml, P < 0.001), IL-8 (682 vs. 184 ng/ml, P < 0.001) and IL-6 (1955 vs. 544 pg/ml, P < 0.01) were significantly higher in patients with septic shock than with severe sepsis. Of note, median PSP/reg was 13.0 ng/ml (IQR: 4.8) in 20 severely burned patients without infection. The area under the ROC curve for PSP/reg (0.65 [95% CI: 0.51 to 0.80]) was higher than for CRP (0.44 [0.29 to 0.60]), PCT 0.46 [0.29 to 0.61]), IL-8 (0.61 [0.43 to 0.77]) or IL-6 (0.59 [0.44 to 0.75]) in predicting in-hospital mortality. In patients with septic shock, PSP/reg was the only biomarker associated with in-hospital mortality (P = 0.049). Risk of mortality increased continuously for each ascending quartile of PSP/reg.
Measurement of PSP/reg concentration within 24 hours of ICU admission may predict in-hospital mortality in patients with septic shock, identifying patients who may benefit most from tailored ICU management.
PMCID: PMC3580689  PMID: 22748193
7.  Examination of Rare Variants in HNF4 α in European Americans with Type 2 Diabetes 
Journal of diabetes & metabolism  2011;2(145):1000145.
The hepatocyte nuclear factor 4-α (HNF4α) gene codes for a transcription factor which is responsible for regulating gene transcription in pancreatic beta cells, in addition to its primary role in hepatic gene regulation. Mutations in this gene can lead to maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), an uncommon, autosomal dominant, non-insulin dependent form of diabetes. Mutations in HNF4α have been found in few individuals, and infrequently have they segregated completely with MODY in families. In addition, due to similarity of phenotypes, it is unclear what proportion of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) in the general population is due to MODY or HNF4α mutations specifically. In this study, 27 documented rare and common variants were genotyped in a European American population of 1270 T2DM cases and 1017 controls from review of databases and literature implicating HNF4α variants in MODY and T2DM. Seventeen variants were found to be monomorphic. Two cases and one control subject had one copy of a 6-bp P2 promoter deletion. The intron 1 variant (rs6103716; MAF = 0.31) was not significantly associated with disease status (p>0.8) and the missense variant Thr130Ile (rs1800961; MAF = 0.027) was also not significantly different between cases and controls (p>0.2), but showed a trend consistent with association with T2DM. Four variants were found to be rare as heterozygotes in small numbers of subjects. Since many variants were infrequent, a pooled chi-squared analysis of rare variants was used to assess the overall burden of variants between cases and controls. This analysis revealed no significant difference (P=0.22). We conclude there is little evidence to suggest that HNF4α variants contribute significantly to risk of T2DM in the general population, but a modest contribution cannot be excluded. In addition, the observation of some mutations in controls suggests they are not highly penetrant MODY-causing variants.
PMCID: PMC3515062  PMID: 23227446
Type 2 Diabetes; HNF4A; Rare variants
8.  MED25 Is a Mediator Component of HNF4α-Driven Transcription Leading to Insulin Secretion in Pancreatic Beta-Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e44007.
Unique nuclear receptor Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4α (HNF4α) is an essential transcriptional regulator for early development and proper function of pancreatic ß-cells, and its mutations are monogenic causes of a dominant inherited form of diabetes referred to as Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young 1 (MODY1). As a gene-specific transcription factor, HNF4α exerts its function through various molecular interactions, but its protein recruiting network has not been fully characterized. Here we report the identification of MED25 as one of the HNF4α binding partners in pancreatic ß-cells leading to insulin secretion which is impaired in MODY patients. MED25 is one of the subunits of the Mediator complex that is required for induction of RNA polymerase II transcription by various transcription factors including nuclear receptors. This HNF4α-MED25 interaction was initially identified by a yeast-two-hybrid method, confirmed by in vivo and in vitro analyses, and proven to be mediated through the MED25-LXXLL motif in a ligand-independent manner. Reporter-gene based transcription assays and siRNA/shRNA-based gene silencing approaches revealed that this interaction is crucial for full activation of HNF4α-mediated transcription, especially expression of target genes implicated in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Selected MODY mutations at the LXXLL motif binding pocket disrupt these interactions and cause impaired insulin secretion through a ‘loss-of-function’ mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3431373  PMID: 22952853
9.  Localization of hepatocyte nuclear factor‐4α in the nucleolus and nucleus is regulated by its C‐terminus 
Aims/Introduction:  Mutations in hepatocyte nuclear factor‐4α (HNF4α) lead to various diseases, among which C‐terminal deletions of HNF4α are exclusively responsible for maturity onset diabetes of the young 1 (MODY1). MODY is an autosomal dominant disease characterized by a primary defect in insulin response to glucose, suggesting that the C‐terminus of HNF4α is important for pancreatic β‐cell function. To clarify the role of the C‐terminus of HNF4α, changes in cellular localization and the binding ability to its regulator were examined, specifically in the region containing Q268, which deletion causes MODY1.
Materials and Methods:  Cellular localization of mutant HNF4α were examined in monkey kidney 7 (COS7), Chinese hamster ovary, rat insulinoma and mouse insulinoma cells, and their binding activity to other proteins were examined by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) in COS7 cells.
Results:  Although wild‐type HNF4α was localized in the nucleoplasm in transfected cultured cells, Q268X‐HNF4α was located predominantly in the nucleolus. Deletion analysis of the C‐terminus of HNF4α showed that the S337X‐HNF4α mutant, and other mutants with shorter amino acid sequences (S337‐K194), were mostly localized in the nucleolus. HNF4α mutants with amino acid sequences shorter than the W192X‐HNF4α mutant gradually spread to the nucleoplasm in accordance with their lengths. The A250X‐HNF4α mutant was capable of causing the accumulation of HNF4α or the small heterodimer partner (SHP), one of the HNF4α regulators, in the nucleolus. However, the R154X‐HNF4α mutant did not have binding ability to wild‐type HNF4α or SHP, and thus was seen in the nucleus.
Conclusions:  The C‐terminus sites might play a key role in facilitating the nucleolar and subnucleolar localization of HNF4α. (J Diabetes Invest, doi: 10.1111/j.2040‐1124.2012.00210.x, 2012)
PMCID: PMC4019245  PMID: 24843605
Fluorescence resonance energy transfer; Hepatocyte nuclear factor‐4α; Nucleolus
10.  Clinically-Defined Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young in Omanis 
We are seeing a progressive increase in the number of young patients with clinically defined maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY) having a family history suggestive of a monogenic cause of their disease and no evidence of autoimmune type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). The aim of this study was to determine whether or not mutations in the 3 commonest forms of MODY, hepatic nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α), HNF1α and glucokinase (GK), are a cause of diabetes in young Omanis.
The study was performed at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH), Oman. Twenty young diabetics with a family history suggestive of monogenic inheritance were identified in less than 18 months; the median age of onset of diabetes was 25 years and the median body mass index (BMI) 29 at presentation. Screening for the presence of autoimmune antibodies against pancreatic beta cells islet cell antibody (ICA) and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) was negative. Fourteen of them consented to genetic screening and their blood was sent to Prof. A. Hattersley’s Unit at the Peninsular Medical School, Exeter, UK. There, their DNA was screened for known mutations by sequencing exon 1–10 of the GCK and exon 2–10 of the HNF1α and HNF4α genes, the three commonest forms of MODY in Europe.
Surprisingly, none of the patients had any of the tested MODY mutations.
In this small sample of patients with clinically defined MODY, mutations of the three most commonly affected genes occurring in Caucasians were not observed. Either these patients have novel MODY mutations or have inherited a high proportion of the type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) susceptibility genes compounded by excessive insulin resistance due to obesity.
PMCID: PMC3074660  PMID: 21509085
Diabetes Mellitus; Type II; Diabetes mellitus; maturity onset; MODY; mutations; Diabetes; familial; Young adults; Oman
11.  Genetic evidence that HNF-1α–dependent transcriptional control of HNF-4α is essential for human pancreatic β cell function 
Mutations in the genes encoding hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF-4α) and HNF-1α impair insulin secretion and cause maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY). HNF-4α is known to be an essential positive regulator of HNF-1α. More recent data demonstrates that HNF-4α expression is dependent on HNF-1α in mouse pancreatic islets and exocrine cells. This effect is mediated by binding of HNF-1α to a tissue-specific promoter (P2) located 45.6 kb upstream from the previously characterized Hnf4α promoter (P1). Here we report that the expression of HNF-4α in human islets and exocrine cells is primarily mediated by the P2 promoter. Furthermore, we describe a G → A mutation in a conserved nucleotide position of the HNF-1α binding site of the P2 promoter, which cosegregates with MODY. The mutation results in decreased affinity for HNF-1α, and consequently in reduced HNF-1α–dependent activation. These findings provide genetic evidence that HNF-1α serves as an upstream regulator of HNF-4α and interacts directly with the P2 promoter in human pancreatic cells. Furthermore, they indicate that this regulation is essential to maintain normal pancreatic function.
PMCID: PMC151122  PMID: 12235114
12.  Mutations in HNF1A Result in Marked Alterations of Plasma Glycan Profile 
Diabetes  2013;62(4):1329-1337.
A recent genome-wide association study identified hepatocyte nuclear factor 1-α (HNF1A) as a key regulator of fucosylation. We hypothesized that loss-of-function HNF1A mutations causal for maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) would display altered fucosylation of N-linked glycans on plasma proteins and that glycan biomarkers could improve the efficiency of a diagnosis of HNF1A-MODY. In a pilot comparison of 33 subjects with HNF1A-MODY and 41 subjects with type 2 diabetes, 15 of 29 glycan measurements differed between the two groups. The DG9-glycan index, which is the ratio of fucosylated to nonfucosylated triantennary glycans, provided optimum discrimination in the pilot study and was examined further among additional subjects with HNF1A-MODY (n = 188), glucokinase (GCK)-MODY (n = 118), hepatocyte nuclear factor 4-α (HNF4A)-MODY (n = 40), type 1 diabetes (n = 98), type 2 diabetes (n = 167), and nondiabetic controls (n = 98). The DG9-glycan index was markedly lower in HNF1A-MODY than in controls or other diabetes subtypes, offered good discrimination between HNF1A-MODY and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes (C statistic ≥0.90), and enabled us to detect three previously undetected HNF1A mutations in patients with diabetes. In conclusion, glycan profiles are altered substantially in HNF1A-MODY, and the DG9-glycan index has potential clinical value as a diagnostic biomarker of HNF1A dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3609552  PMID: 23274891
13.  Mutations in the coding regions of the hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha in Iranian families with maturity onset diabetes of the young 
Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α) is a nuclear receptor involved in glucose homeostasis and is required for normal β cell function. Mutations in the HNF4α gene are associated with maturity onset diabetes of the young type 1 (MODY1). The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence and nature of mutations in HNF4α gene in Iranian patients with a clinical diagnosis of MODY and their family members. Twelve families including 30 patients with clinically MODY diagnosis and 21 members of their family were examined using PCR-RFLP method and in case of mutation confirmed by sequencing techniques. Fifty age and sex matched subjects with normal fasting blood sugar (FBS) and Glucose tolerance test (GTT) were constituted the control group and investigated in the similar pattern. Single mutation of V255M in the HNF4α gene was detected. This known mutation was found in 8 of 30 patients and 3 of 21 individuals in relatives. Fifty healthy control subjects did not show any mutation. Here, it is indicated that the prevalence of HNF4α mutation among Iranian patients with clinical MODY is considerable. This mutation was present in 26.6% of our patients, but nothing was found in control group. In the family members, 3 subjects with the age of ≤25 years old carried this mutation. Therefore, holding this mutation in this range of age could be a predisposing factor for developing diabetes in future.
PMCID: PMC2797770  PMID: 20003313
14.  Increased Expression of Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 6 Stimulates Hepatocyte Proliferation during Mouse Liver Regeneration 
Gastroenterology  2006;130(4):1283-1300.
Background & Aims
The Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 6 (HNF6 or ONECUT-1) protein is a cell-type specific transcription factor that regulates expression of hepatocyte-specific genes. Using hepatocytes for Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, the HNF6 protein was shown to associate with cell cycle regulatory promoters. Here, we examined whether increased levels of HNF6 stimulate hepatocyte proliferation during mouse liver regeneration.
Tail vein injection of adenovirus expressing the HNF6 cDNA (AdHNF6) was used to increase hepatic HNF6 levels during mouse liver regeneration induced by partial hepatectomy, and DNA replication was determined by Bromodeoxyuridine incorporation. Cotransfection and ChIP assays were used to determine transcriptional target promoters.
Elevated expression of HNF6 during mouse liver regeneration causes a significant increase in the number of hepatocytes entering DNA replication (S-phase) and mouse hepatoma Hepa1-6 cells diminished for HNF6 levels by siRNA transfection exhibit a 50% reduction in S-phase following serum stimulation. This stimulation in hepatocyte S-phase progression was associated with increased expression of the hepatocyte mitogen Tumor Growth Factor α (TGFα) and the cell cycle regulators Cyclin D1 and Forkhead Box m1 (Foxm1) transcription factor. Cotransfection and ChIP assays show that TGFα, Cyclin D1, and HNF6 promoter regions are direct transcriptional targets of the HNF6 protein. Co-immunoprecipitation assays with regenerating mouse liver extracts reveal association between HNF6 and Foxm1 proteins and cotransfection assays show that HNF6 stimulates Foxm1 transcriptional activity.
These mouse liver regeneration studies show that increased HNF6 levels stimulate hepatocyte proliferation through transcriptional induction of cell cycle regulatory genes.
PMCID: PMC1440887  PMID: 16618419
HNF6, Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 6; OC-1; ONECUT 1; Foxm1, Forkhead Box m1; TGFα, Tumor Growth Factor α; AdHNF6, adenovirus expressing HNF6; AdLacZ, adenovirus expressing β-Galactosidase; ChIP, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation; BrdU, Bromodeoxyuridine; S-phase, DNA replication; PHx, partial hepatectomy; Co-IP, co-immunoprecipitation; siRNA, small interfering RNA; GH, growth hormone; CREB, cAMP Responsive Element Binding protein; CBP, CREB Binding Protein; CDKs, Cyclin-dependent kinases; CDKI proteins, CDK inhibitor proteins; RPA, RNase protection assays
15.  Role of HNF-1α in regulating the expression of genes involved in cellular growth and proliferation in pancreatic beta-cells 
Hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-1α is a homeodomain-containing transcription factor. Humans heterozygous for mutations in the HNF-1α gene develop maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY3), which is associated with reduced insulin secretion. The mechanisms responsible for defective glucose-induced insulin secretion due to HNF-1α deficiency are complex. In order to explore the relationship between HNF-1α and beta-cell proliferation, we have created a novel animal model. Mice lacking one allele of the HNF-1α gene were crossed with transgenic mice expressing the large T antigen driven by the rat insulin II promoter (RIP). The resulting mouse strains allowed us to study the effect of HNF-1α deficiency on the extensive beta-cell proliferation that occurs in these mice. Our results indicate that deficiency of HNF-1α severely constrains the extent of beta-cell proliferation occurring in RIP-Tag mice leading to significant changes in blood glucose concentrations as a result of reduced beta-cell number, insulin content, insulin secretion and intracellular responses in Ca2+. Furthermore expression profiling studies using immortalized cell lines generated from HNF-1α/RIP-Tag mice showed changes in expression of genes involved in cellular growth and proliferation. These results provide insights into the mechanisms whereby HNF-1α affects beta-cell function.
PMCID: PMC2782714  PMID: 19181415
hepatocyte nuclear factor-1α; maturity-onset diabetes of the young; pancreatic beta-cells; diabetes; expression profiling
16.  Response to oral gliclazide in a pre-pubertal child with hepatic nuclear factor-1 alpha maturity onset diabetes of the young 
Annals of Saudi Medicine  2011;31(2):190-193.
The term “maturity onset diabetes of the young” (MODY) describes a heterogeneous group of monogenic diabetes of which hepatic nuclear factor-1 alpha (HNF-1α) MODY is the most common. Patients with HNF-1α mutations typically present after puberty, and oral sulfonylureas (SU) have been shown to be effective in adults with this condition. A 7-year-old boy presented with asymptomatic hyperglycemia ranging between 6.2 and 10.1 mmol/L and glycosuria for nearly a year. The child's initial HbA1c was 6.9% and the pancreatic Islet cell autoantibodies were negative. His response to the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) showed a large increment of glucose from basal level of 7.7 to 21.1 mmol/L in 120 min. The mild presentation, family history, and negative autoantibodies were suggestive of HNF-1α MODY, which was confirmed by mutation analysis. Initial management with diet alone was not sufficient, but he responded well to 20 mg oral gliclazide once a day with an improvement of HbA1C from 7.2% to 6.5% within 3 months of treatment. The case is an illustration of the clinical utility of molecular genetic tests in the management of childhood diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3102482  PMID: 21242637
17.  Hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α interacts with other hepatocyte nuclear factors in regulating transthyretin gene expression 
The FEBS journal  2010;277(19):4066-4075.
Transthyretin (TTR) is a negative acute phase protein whose serum level decreases during the acute phase response (APR). TTR gene expression in liver is regulated at the transcriptional level, and controlled by hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-4α and other HNFs. The site-directed mutagenesis of the HNF-4, HNF-1, HNF-3 or HNF-6 binding sites in the TTR proximal promoter dramatically decreased TTR promoter activity. Interestingly, the mutation of HNF-4 binding site not only abolished the response to HNF-4α, but also significantly reduced the response to other HNFs. However, mutation of the HNF-4 binding site merely affected the specific binding of HNF-4α, but not other HNFs, suggesting that an intact HNF-4 binding site provides not only a platform for specific interaction with HNF-4α, but also facilitates the interaction of HNF-4α with other HNFs. In a cytokine-induced APR cell culture model, we observed a significant reduction in the binding of HNF-4α, HNF-1α, HNF-3β and HNF-6α to the TTR promoter, which correlates with the decrease in the TTR expression after injury. These findings provide a new insight into the mechanism of the negative transcriptional regulation of TTR gene after injury caused by a decrease in HNFs’ binding and a modulation in their coordinated interactions.
PMCID: PMC2939928  PMID: 20735474
hepatocyte nuclear factor; transthyretin; gene transcription; acute phase response; HepG2 cell
18.  Overproduction of a truncated hepatocyte nuclear factor 3 protein inhibits expression of liver-specific genes in hepatoma cells. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1995;15(10):5453-5460.
Transcription of hepatocyte-specific genes requires the interaction of their regulatory regions with several nuclear factors. Among them is the hepatocyte nuclear factor 3 (HNF3) family, composed of the HNF3 alpha, HNF3 beta, and HNF3 gamma proteins, which are expressed in the liver and have very similar fork head DNA binding domains. The regulatory regions of numerous hepatocyte-specific genes contain HNF3 binding sites. We examined the role of HNF3 proteins in the liver-specific phenotype by turning off the HNF3 activity in well-differentiated mhAT3F hepatoma cells. Cells were stably transfected with a vector allowing the synthesis of an HNF3 beta fragment consisting of the fork head DNA binding domain without the transactivating amino- and carboxy-terminal domains. The truncated protein was located in the nuclei of cultured hepatoma cells and competed with endogenous HNF3 proteins for binding to cognate DNA sites. Overproduction of this truncated protein, lacking any transactivating activity, induced a dramatic decrease in the expression of liver-specific genes, including those for albumin, transthyretin, transferrin, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, and aldolase B, whereas the expression of the L-type pyruvate kinase gene, containing no HNF3 binding sites, was unaltered. Neither were the concentrations of various liver-specific transcription factors (HNF3, HNF1, HNF4, and C/EBP alpha) affected. In partial revertants, with a lower ratio of truncated to full-length endogenous HNF3 proteins, previously extinguished genes were re-expressed. Thus, the transactivating domains of HNF3 proteins are needed for the proper expression of a set of liver-specific genes but not for expression of the genes encoding transcription factors found in differentiated hepatocytes.
PMCID: PMC230795  PMID: 7565696
19.  Hepatocyte nuclear factor 3 activates transcription of thyroid transcription factor 1 in respiratory epithelial cells. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1996;16(7):3626-3636.
Thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF-1), hepatocyte nuclear factor 3alpha (HNF-3alpha), and HNF-3beta regulate the transcription of genes expressed in the respiratory epithelium. To test whether members of the HNF-3/forkhead family influence TTF-1 gene expression, deletion constructs containing the 5' region of the human TTF-1 gene were transfected into immortalized mouse lung epithelial (MLE) cells. DNase I protection and electrophoretic mobility shift assays identified elements in the 5' region of the TTF-1 gene that bound MLE cell nuclear proteins consistent with the binding of HNF-3 to sites at positions -135 to -124 and -14 to -3. In MLE cells, TTF-1-luciferase reporter constructs were activated by cotransfection with HNF-3beta, activated to a lesser extent by HNF-3alpha, but not activated by HFH-8. HNF-3alpha. and HFH-8 inhibited the activation of TTF-1-luciferase by HNF-3beta. Site-specific mutagenesis of each of the HNF-3 binding sites in the human TTF-1 gene inhibited the binding of MLE cell nuclear proteins and inhibited transactivation of the TTF-1-luciferase constructs after cotransfection with HNF-3beta. Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated that both HNF-3beta and TTF-1 were detected in bronchiolar and alveolar type II cells in the human lung. Modulation of TTF-1 gene expression by members of the HNF-3/forkhead family members may provide a mechanism by which distinct HNF-3/forkhead family members influence respiratory epithelial cell gene expression and cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC231358  PMID: 8668179
20.  Multi-Domain Integration in the Structure of the HNF4α Nuclear Receptor Complex 
Nature  2013;495(7441):394-398.
The hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4α, NR2A1) is a member of the nuclear receptor (NR) family of transcription factors that use conserved DNA binding domains (DBDs) and ligand binding domains (LBDs)1,2. HNF4α is the most abundant DNA-binding protein in the liver, where some 40% of the actively transcribed genes have a HNF4α response element 1,3,4. These regulated genes are largely involved in the hepatic gluconeogenic program and lipid metabolism3,5,6. In the pancreas too, HNF4α is a master regulator controlling an estimated 11% of islet genes7. HNF4α protein mutations are linked to Maturity Onset of Diabetes in Young 1 (MODY1) and hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia (HH)8–11. Prior structural analyses of NRs, while productive with individual domains, have lagged in revealing the connectivity patterns of NR domains. Here, we describe the 2.9 Å crystal structure of the multi-domain HNF4α homodimer bound to its DNA response element and coactivator-derived peptides. A convergence zone connects multiple receptor domains in an asymmetric fashion joining distinct elements from each monomer. An arginine target of PRMT1 methylation protrudes directly into this convergence zone and sustains its integrity. A serine target of protein kinase C is also responsible for maintaining domain-domain interactions. These post-translational modifications manifest into changes in DNA binding by communicating through the tightly connected surfaces of the quaternary fold. We find that some MODY1 mutations, positioned on the LBD and hinge regions of the receptor, compromise DNA binding at a distance by communicating through the inter-junctional surfaces of the complex. The overall domain representation of the HNF4α homodimer is different from that of the PPARγ-RXRα heterodimer, even when both NR complexes are assembled on the same DNA element. Our findings suggest that unique quaternary folds and inter-domain connections in NRs could be exploited by small-molecule allosteric modulators that impact distal functions in these polypeptides.
PMCID: PMC3606643  PMID: 23485969
21.  Clinical Application of 1,5-Anhydroglucitol Measurements in Patients with Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor-1α Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young  
Diabetes Care  2008;31(8):1496-1501.
OBJECTIVE—1,5-anhydroglucitol (1,5-AG) is a short-term marker of metabolic control in diabetes. Its renal loss is stimulated in hyperglycemic conditions by glycosuria, which results in a lowered plasma concentration. As a low renal threshold for glucose has been described in hepatocyte nuclear factor-1α (HNF-1α) maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), the 1,5-AG level may be altered in these patients. The purpose of this study was to assess the 1,5-AG levels in patients with HNF-1α MODY and in type 2 diabetic subjects with a similar degree of metabolic control. In addition, we aimed to evaluate this particle as a biomarker for HNF-1α MODY.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We included 33 diabetic patients from the Polish Nationwide Registry of MODY. In addition, we examined 43 type 2 diabetic patients and 47 nondiabetic control subjects. The 1,5-AG concentration was measured with an enzymatic assay (GlycoMark). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to evaluate 1,5-AG as a screening marker for HNF-1α MODY.
RESULTS—The mean 1,5-AG plasma concentration in diabetic HNF-1α mutation carriers was 5.9 μg/ml, and it was lower than that in type 2 diabetic patients (11.0 μg/ml, P = 0.003) and in nondiabetic control subjects (23.9 μg/ml, P < 0.00005). The ROC curve analysis revealed 85.7% sensitivity and 80.0% specificity of 1,5-AG in screening for HNF-1α MODY at the criterion of <6.5 μg/ml in patients with an A1C level between 6.5 and 9.0%.
CONCLUSIONS—1,5-AG may be a useful biomarker for differential diagnosis of patients with HNF-1α MODY with a specific range of A1C, although this requires further investigation. However, the clinical use of this particle in diabetic HNF-1α mutation carriers for metabolic control has substantial limitations.
PMCID: PMC2494661  PMID: 18492944
22.  Crystallization of hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α) in complex with the HNF1α promoter element 
Sample preparation, characterization, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis are reported for the HNF4α–DNA binary complex.
Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily that plays a central role in organ development and metabolic functions. Mutations on HNF4α cause maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), a dominant monogenic cause of diabetes. In order to understand the molecular mechanism of promoter recognition and the molecular basis of disease-causing mutations, the recombinant HNF4α DNA-binding domain was prepared and used in a study of its binding properties and in crystallization with a 21-mer DNA fragment that contains the promoter element of another MODY gene, HNF1α. The HNF4α protein displays a cooperative and specific DNA-binding activity towards its target gene-recognition elements. Crystals of the complex diffract to 2.0 Å using a synchrotron-radiation source under cryogenic (100 K) conditions and belong to space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a = 121.63, b = 35.43, c = 70.99 Å, β = 119.36°. A molecular-replacement solution has been obtained and structure refinement is in progress. This structure and the binding studies will provide the groundwork for detailed functional and biochemical studies of the MODY mutants.
PMCID: PMC2374247  PMID: 18391435
protein–DNA complex; gel-shift assay; diabetes; nuclear receptors; zinc-finger proteins
23.  Urinary C-Peptide Creatinine Ratio Is a Practical Outpatient Tool for Identifying Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-α/Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4-α Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young From Long-Duration Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(2):286-291.
Hepatocyte nuclear factor 1-α (HNF1A)/hepatocyte nuclear factor 4-α (HNF4A) maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is frequently misdiagnosed as type 1 diabetes, and patients are inappropriately treated with insulin. Blood C-peptide can aid in the diagnosis of MODY, but practical reasons limit its widespread use. Urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio (UCPCR), a stable measure of endogenous insulin secretion, is a noninvasive alternative. We aimed to compare stimulated UCPCR in adults with HNF1A/4A MODY, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes.
Adults with diabetes for ≥5years, without renal impairment, were studied (HNF1A MODY [n = 54], HNF4A MODY [n = 23], glucokinase MODY [n = 20], type 1 diabetes [n = 69], and type 2 diabetes [n = 54]). The UCPCR was collected in boric acid 120 min after the largest meal of the day and mailed for analysis. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to identify optimal UCPCR cutoffs to differentiate HNF1A/4A MODY from type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
UCPCR was lower in type 1 diabetes than HNF1A/4A MODY (median [interquartile range]) (<0.02 nmol/mmol [<0.02 to <0.02] vs. 1.72 nmol/mmol [0.98–2.90]; P < 0.0001). ROC curves showed excellent discrimination (area under curve [AUC] 0.98) and identified a cutoff UCPCR of ≥0.2 nmol/mmol for differentiating HNF1A/4A MODY from type 1 diabetes (97% sensitivity, 96% specificity). UCPCR was lower in HNF1A/4A MODY than in type 2 diabetes (1.72 nmol/mmol [0.98–2.90] vs. 2.47 nmol/mmol [1.4–4.13]); P = 0.007). ROC curves showed a weak distinction between HNF1A/4A MODY and type 2 diabetes (AUC 0.64).
UCPCR is a noninvasive outpatient tool that can be used to discriminate HNF1A and HNF4A MODY from long-duration type 1 diabetes. To differentiate MODY from type 1 diabetes of >5 years’ duration, UCPCR could be used to determine whether genetic testing is indicated.
PMCID: PMC3024335  PMID: 21270186
24.  The transcriptional activator hepatocyte nuclear factor 6 regulates liver gene expression. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1996;16(11):6273-6284.
The hepatocyte nuclear factor 3(alpha) (HNF-3(alpha)), -3(beta), and -3(gamma) proteins share homology in the winged-helix/fork head DNA binding domain and mediate hepatocyte-enriched transcription of numerous genes whose expression is necessary for organ function. In this work, we identify a liver-enriched transcription factor, HNF-6, which recognizes the -138 to -126 region of the HNF-3(beta) promoter and binds the original HNF-3 site of the transthyretin promoter (-94 to -106). We show that HNF-6 and HNF-3 possess different DNA binding specificities by competition and methylation interference studies and are immunologically distinct. Site-directed mutagenesis of the HNF-6 sites in the HNF-3(beta) and transthyretin promoters diminishes reporter gene expression, suggesting that HNF-6 activates transcription of these promoters. Using the HNF-6 binding sequence DHWATTGAYTWWD (where W = A or T, Y = T or C, H is not G, and D is not C) determined by sequence comparison and methylation interference, we predicted that HNF-6 will bind to 22 additional hepatocyte-enriched genes. Of these potential target genes, we selected seven of the HNF-6 binding sequences and demonstrated that they bind the HNF-6 protein. These include promoter sequences from alpha-2 urinary globulin, alpha-1 antitrypsin, cytochrome P-450 2C13, L-type 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase, mouse major urinary protein, tryptophan oxygenase, and alpha-fetoprotein genes. HNF-6 binding activity was also found in the intestinal epithelial cell line HT29, and potential HNF-6 binding sites were present in intestinal sucrase isomaltase, cdx-2 homeodomain protein, and intestinal fatty acid binding protein promoter regions. These studies suggest that HNF-6 may regulate hepatocyte-specific genes and may play a role in epithelial cell differentiation of gut endoderm via regulation of HNF-3(beta).
PMCID: PMC231630  PMID: 8887657
25.  Expression and localization of P1 promoter-driven hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α (HNF4α) isoforms in human and rats 
Nuclear Receptor  2003;1:5.
Hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α (HNF4α; NR2A1) is an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily involved in various processes that could influence endoderm development, glucose and lipid metabolism. A loss-of-function mutation in human HNF4α causes one form of diabetes mellitus called maturity-onset diabetes of the young type 1 (MODY1) which is characterized in part by a diminished insulin secretory response to glucose. The expression of HNF4α in a variety of tissues has been examined predominantly at the mRNA level, and there is little information regarding the cellular localization of the endogenous HNF4α protein, due, in part, to the limited availability of human HNF4α-specific antibodies.
Monoclonal antibodies have been produced using baculovirus particles displaying gp64-HNF4α fusion proteins as the immunizing agent. The mouse anti-human HNF4α monoclonal antibody (K9218) generated against human HNF4α1/α2/α3 amino acids 3–49 was shown to recognize not only the transfected and expressed P1 promoter-driven HNF4α proteins, but also endogenous proteins. Western blot analysis with whole cell extracts from Hep G2, Huh7 and Caco-2 showed the expression of HNF4α protein, but HEK293 showed no expression of HNF4α protein. Nuclear-specific localization of the HNF4α protein was observed in the hepatocytes of liver cells, proximal tubular epithelial cells of kidney, and mucosal epithelial cells of small intestine and colon, but no HNF4α protein was detected in the stomach, pancreas, glomerulus, and distal and collecting tubular epithelial cells of kidney. The same tissue distribution of HNF4α protein was observed in humans and rats. Electron microscopic immunohistochemistry showed a chromatin-like localization of HNF4α in the liver and kidney. As in the immunohistochemical investigation using K9218, HNF4α mRNA was found to be localized primarily to liver, kidney, small intestine and colon by RT-PCR and GeneChip analysis.
These results suggest that this method has the potential to produce valuable antibodies without the need for a protein purification step. Immunohistochemical studies indicate the tissue and subcellular specific localization of HNF4α and demonstrate the utility of K9218 for the detection of P1 promoter-driven HNF4α isoforms in humans and in several other mammalian species.
PMCID: PMC194242  PMID: 12952540

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