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author:("ree, Karen")
1.  Feedback regulation of cholesterol uptake by the LXR-IDOL-LDLR axis 
Inducible Degrader Of the Low-density lipoprotein receptor (IDOL) is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that mediates the ubiquitination and degradation of the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR). IDOL expression is controlled at the transcriptional level by the cholesterol-sensing nuclear receptor LXR. In response to rising cellular sterol levels, activated LXR induces IDOL production, thereby limiting further uptake of exogenous cholesterol through the LDLR pathway. The LXR–IDOL–LDLR mechanism for feedback inhibition of cholesterol uptake is independent of and complementary to the SREBP pathway. Since the initial description of the LXR–IDOL pathway, biochemical studies have helped to define the structural basis for both IDOL target recognition and LDLR ubiquitin transfer. Recent work has also suggested links between IDOL and human lipid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4280256  PMID: 22936343
2.  Resistance to Diet-Induced Obesity in Mice with Synthetic Glyoxylate Shunt 
Cell metabolism  2009;9(6):525-536.
Given the success in engineering synthetic phenotypes in microbes and mammalian cells, constructing non-native pathways in mammals has become increasingly attractive for understanding and identifying potential targets for treating metabolic disorders. Here we introduced the glyoxylate shunt into mouse liver to investigate mammalian fatty acid metabolism. Mice expressing the shunt showed resistance to diet-induced obesity on a high fat diet despite similar food consumption. This was accompanied by a decrease in total fat mass, circulating leptin levels, plasma triglyceride concentration, and a signaling metabolite in liver, malonyl-CoA, that inhibits fatty acid degradation. Contrary to plants and bacteria, in which the glyoxylate shunt prevents the complete oxidation of fatty acids, this pathway when introduced in mice increases fatty acid oxidation such that resistance to diet-induced obesity develops. This work suggests that using non-native pathways in higher organisms to explore and modulate metabolism may be a useful approach.
PMCID: PMC4277884  PMID: 19490907
3.  Succinate dehydrogenase inhibition leads to epithelial-mesenchymal transition and reprogrammed carbon metabolism 
Cancer & Metabolism  2014;2:21.
Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) is a mitochondrial metabolic enzyme complex involved in both the electron transport chain and the citric acid cycle. SDH mutations resulting in enzymatic dysfunction have been found to be a predisposing factor in various hereditary cancers. Therefore, SDH has been implicated as a tumor suppressor.
We identified that dysregulation of SDH components also occurs in serous ovarian cancer, particularly the SDH subunit SDHB. Targeted knockdown of Sdhb in mouse ovarian cancer cells resulted in enhanced proliferation and an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Bioinformatics analysis revealed that decreased SDHB expression leads to a transcriptional upregulation of genes involved in metabolic networks affecting histone methylation. We confirmed that Sdhb knockdown leads to a hypermethylated epigenome that is sufficient to promote EMT. Metabolically, the loss of Sdhb resulted in reprogrammed carbon source utilization and mitochondrial dysfunction. This altered metabolic state of Sdhb knockdown cells rendered them hypersensitive to energy stress.
These data illustrate how SDH dysfunction alters the epigenetic and metabolic landscape in ovarian cancer. By analyzing the involvement of this enzyme in transcriptional and metabolic networks, we find a metabolic Achilles’ heel that can be exploited therapeutically. Analyses of this type provide an understanding how specific perturbations in cancer metabolism may lead to novel anticancer strategies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2049-3002-2-21) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4322794  PMID: 25671108
Succinate dehydrogenase; SDH; Ovarian cancer; EMT; Carbon metabolism; Epigenetics
4.  The metabolite alpha-ketoglutarate extends lifespan by inhibiting the ATP synthase and TOR 
Nature  2014;510(7505):397-401.
Metabolism and ageing are intimately linked. Compared to ad libitum feeding, dietary restriction (DR) or calorie restriction (CR) consistently extends lifespan and delays age-related diseases in evolutionarily diverse organisms1,2. Similar conditions of nutrient limitation and genetic or pharmacological perturbations of nutrient or energy metabolism also have longevity benefits3,4. Recently, several metabolites have been identified that modulate ageing5,6 with largely undefined molecular mechanisms. Here we show that the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate α-ketoglutarate (α-KG) extends the lifespan of adult C. elegans. ATP synthase subunit beta is identified as a novel binding protein of α-KG using a small-molecule target identification strategy called DARTS (drug affinity responsive target stability)7. The ATP synthase, also known as Complex V of the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC), is the main cellular energy-generating machinery and is highly conserved throughout evolution8,9. Although complete loss of mitochondrial function is detrimental, partial suppression of the ETC has been shown to extend C. elegans lifespan10–13. We show that α-KG inhibits ATP synthase and, similar to ATP synthase knockdown, inhibition by α-KG leads to reduced ATP content, decreased oxygen consumption, and increased autophagy in both C. elegans and mammalian cells. We provide evidence that the lifespan increase by α-KG requires ATP synthase subunit beta and is dependent on the target of rapamycin (TOR) downstream. Endogenous α-KG levels are increased upon starvation and α-KG does not extend the lifespan of DR animals, indicating that α-KG is a key metabolite that mediates longevity by DR. Our analyses uncover new molecular links between a common metabolite, a universal cellular energy generator, and DR in the regulation of organismal lifespan, thus suggesting new strategies for the prevention and treatment of ageing and age-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC4263271  PMID: 24828042
5.  Lipins, Lipinopathies, and the Modulation of Cellular Lipid Storage and Signaling 
Progress in lipid research  2013;52(3):10.1016/j.plipres.2013.04.001.
Members of the lipin protein family are phosphatidate phosphatase (PAP) enzymes, which catalyze the dephosphorylation of phosphatidic acid to diacylglycerol, the penultimate step in TAG synthesis. Lipins are unique among the glycerolipid biosynthetic enzymes in that they also promote fatty acid oxidation through their activity as co-regulators of gene expression by DNA-bound transcription factors. Lipin function has been evolutionarily conserved from a single ortholog in yeast to the mammalian family of three lipin proteins—lipin-1, lipin-2, and lipin-3. In mice and humans, the levels of lipin activity are a determinant of TAG storage in diverse cell types, and humans with deficiency in lipin-1 or lipin-2 have severe metabolic diseases. Recent work has highlighted the complex physiological interactions between members of the lipin protein family, which exhibit both overlapping and unique functions in specific tissues. The analysis of “lipinopathies” in mouse models and in humans has revealed an important role for lipin activity in the regulation of lipid intermediates (phosphatidate and diacylglycerol), which influence fundamental cellular processes including adipocyte and nerve cell differentiation, adipocyte lipolysis, and hepatic insulin signaling. The elucidation of lipin molecular and physiological functions could lead to novel approaches to modulate cellular lipid storage and metabolic disease.
PMCID: PMC3830937  PMID: 23603613
6.  Diet1 functions in the FGF15/19 enterohepatic signaling axis to modulate bile acid and lipid levels 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(6):916-928.
We identified a mutation in the Diet1 gene in a mouse strain that is resistant to hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis. Diet1 encodes a 236 kD protein consisting of tandem low density lipoprotein receptor and MAM (meprin-A5-protein tyrosine phosphatase mu) domains, and is expressed in enterocytes of the small intestine. Diet1-deficient mice exhibited an elevated bile acid pool size and impaired feedback regulation of hepatic Cyp7a1, which encodes the rate-limiting enzyme in bile acid synthesis. In mouse intestine and in cultured human intestinal cells, Diet1 expression levels influenced the production of fibroblast growth factor 15/19 (FGF15/19), a hormone that signals from the intestine to liver to regulate Cyp7a1. Transgenic expression of Diet1, or adenoviral-mediated Fgf15 expression, restored normal Cyp7a1 regulation in Diet-1–deficient mice. Diet1 and FGF19 proteins exhibited overlapping subcellular localization in cultured intestinal cells. These results establish Diet1 as a control point in enterohepatic bile acid signaling and lipid homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3956443  PMID: 23747249
7.  An essential requirement for the SCAP/SREBP signaling axis to protect cancer cells from lipotoxicity 
Cancer research  2013;73(9):2850-2862.
SREBPs are key transcriptional regulators of lipid metabolism and cellular growth. It has been proposed that SREBP signaling regulates cellular growth through its ability to drive lipid biosynthesis. Unexpectedly, we find that loss of SREBP activity inhibits cancer cell growth and viability by uncoupling fatty acid synthesis from desaturation. Integrated lipid profiling and metabolic flux analysis revealed that cancer cells with attenuated SREBP activity maintain long-chain saturated fatty acid synthesis, while losing fatty acid desaturation capacity. We traced this defect to the uncoupling of Fatty Acid Synthase activity from SCD1-mediated desaturation. This deficiency in desaturation drives an imbalance between the saturated and monounsaturated fatty acid pools resulting in severe lipotoxicity. Importantly, replenishing the monounsaturated fatty acid pool restored growth to SREBP-inhibited cells. These studies highlight the importance of fatty acid desaturation in cancer growth and provide a novel mechanistic explanation for the role of SREBPs in cancer metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3919498  PMID: 23440422
SREBP; MUFA; lipotoxicity; cancer; metabolism
8.  Cell-autonomous sex determination outside of the gonad 
The classic model of sex determination in mammals states that the sex of the individual is determined by the type of gonad that develops, which in turn determines the gonadal hormonal milieu that creates sex differences outside of the gonads. However, XX and XY cells are intrinsically different because of the cell-autonomous sex-biasing action of X and Y genes. Recent studies of mice, in which sex chromosome complement is independent of gonadal sex, reveal that sex chromosome complement has strong effects contributing to sex differences in phenotypes such as metabolism. Adult mice with two X chromosomes (relative to mice with one X chromosome) show dramatically greater increases in body weight and adiposity after gonadectomy, irrespective of their gonadal sex. When fed a high fat diet, XX mice develop striking hyperinsulinemia and fatty liver, relative to XY mice. The sex chromosome effects are modulated by the presence of gonadal hormones, indicating an interaction of the sex-biasing effects of gonadal hormones and sex chromosome genes. Other cell-autonomous sex chromosome effects are detected in mice in many phenotypes. Birds (relative to eutherian mammals) are expected to show more widespread cell-autonomous sex determination in non-gonadal tissues, because of ineffective sex chromosome dosage compensation mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3672066  PMID: 23361913
sex chromosome; sex determination; X chromosome; Y chromosome; Z chromosome; W chromosome; sexual differentiation; androgens; estrogens
9.  Follistatin promotes adipocyte differentiation, browning, and energy metabolism[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2014;55(3):375-384.
Follistatin (Fst) functions to bind and neutralize the activity of members of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily. Fst has a well-established role in skeletal muscle, but we detected significant Fst expression levels in interscapular brown and subcutaneous white adipose tissue, and further investigated its role in adipocyte biology. Fst expression was induced during adipogenic differentiation of mouse brown preadipocytes and mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) as well as in cold-induced brown adipose tissue from mice. In differentiated MEFs from Fst KO mice, the induction of brown adipocyte proteins including uncoupling protein 1, PR domain containing 16, and PPAR gamma coactivator-1α was attenuated, but could be rescued by treatment with recombinant FST. Furthermore, Fst enhanced thermogenic gene expression in differentiated mouse brown adipocytes and MEF cultures from both WT and Fst KO groups, suggesting that Fst produced by adipocytes may act in a paracrine manner. Our microarray gene expression profiling of WT and Fst KO MEFs during adipogenic differentiation identified several genes implicated in lipid and energy metabolism that were significantly downregulated in Fst KO MEFs. Furthermore, Fst treatment significantly increases cellular respiration in Fst-deficient cells. Our results implicate a novel role of Fst in the induction of brown adipocyte character and regulation of energy metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3934723  PMID: 24443561
mouse embryonic fibroblast; myostatin; brown fat; energy expenditure; uncoupling protein 1; mitochondria
10.  Skeletal muscle Nur77 expression enhances oxidative metabolism and substrate utilization[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2012;53(12):2610-2619.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Identifying novel regulators of mitochondrial bioenergetics will broaden our understanding of regulatory checkpoints that coordinate complex metabolic pathways. We previously showed that Nur77, an orphan nuclear receptor of the NR4A family, regulates the expression of genes linked to glucose utilization. Here we demonstrate that expression of Nur77 in skeletal muscle also enhances mitochondrial function. We generated MCK-Nur77 transgenic mice that express wild-type Nur77 specifically in skeletal muscle. Nur77-overexpressing muscle had increased abundance of oxidative muscle fibers and mitochondrial DNA content. Transgenic muscle also exhibited enhanced oxidative metabolism, suggestive of increased mitochondrial activity. Metabolomic analysis confirmed that Nur77 transgenic muscle favored fatty acid oxidation over glucose oxidation, mimicking the metabolic profile of fasting. Nur77 expression also improved the intrinsic respiratory capacity of isolated mitochondria, likely due to the increased abundance of complex I of the electron transport chain. These changes in mitochondrial metabolism translated to improved muscle contractile function ex vivo and improved cold tolerance in vivo. Our studies outline a novel role for Nur77 in the regulation of oxidative metabolism and mitochondrial activity in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC3494265  PMID: 23028113
Nr4a; nuclear receptor; mitochondria
11.  Lipin-1 and lipin-3 together determine adiposity in vivo☆ 
Molecular Metabolism  2013;3(2):145-154.
The lipin protein family of phosphatidate phosphatases has an established role in triacylglycerol synthesis and storage. Physiological roles for lipin-1 and lipin-2 have been identified, but the role of lipin-3 has remained mysterious. Using lipin single- and double-knockout models we identified a cooperative relationship between lipin-3 and lipin-1 that influences adipogenesis in vitro and adiposity in vivo. Furthermore, natural genetic variations in Lpin1 and Lpin3 expression levels across 100 mouse strains correlate with adiposity. Analysis of PAP activity in additional metabolic tissues from lipin single- and double-knockout mice also revealed roles for lipin-1 and lipin-3 in spleen, kidney, and liver, for lipin-1 alone in heart and skeletal muscle, and for lipin-1 and lipin-2 in lung and brain. Our findings establish that lipin-1 and lipin-3 cooperate in vivo to determine adipose tissue PAP activity and adiposity, and may have implications in understanding the protection of lipin-1-deficient humans from overt lipodystrophy.
PMCID: PMC3953701  PMID: 24634820
Gene family; Knockout mouse; Adipogenesis; Triacylglycerol; Glycerolipid biosynthesis
12.  The sterol regulatory element binding proteins are essential for the metabolic programming of effector T cells and adaptive immunity 
Nature immunology  2013;14(5):489-499.
Newly activated CD8+ T cells reprogram their metabolism to meet the extraordinary biosynthetic demands of clonal expansion; however, the signals mediating metabolic reprogramming remain poorly defined. Herein, we demonstrate an essential role for sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) in the acquisition of effector cell metabolism. Without SREBP signaling, CD8+ T cells are unable to blast, resulting in markedly attenuated clonal expansion during viral infection. Mechanistic studies indicate that SREBPs are essential to meet the heightened lipid requirements of membrane synthesis during blastogenesis. SREBPs are dispensable for homeostatic proliferation, indicating a context-specific requirement for SREBPs in effector responses. These studies provide insights into the molecular signals underlying metabolic reprogramming of CD8+ T cells during the transition from quiescence to activation.
PMCID: PMC3652626  PMID: 23563690
SREBP; LCMV; lipids; CD8+ T cell; metabolism; proliferation
13.  Adipose subtype–selective recruitment of TLE3 or Prdm16 by PPARγ specifies lipid-storage versus thermogenic gene programs 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(3):423-435.
Transcriptional effectors of white adipocyte-selective gene expression have not been described. Here we show that TLE3 is a white-selective cofactor that acts reciprocally with the brown-selective cofactor Prdm16 to specify lipid storage and thermogenic gene programs. Occupancy of TLE3 and Prdm16 on certain promoters is mutually exclusive, due to the ability of TLE3 to disrupt the physical interaction between Prdm16 and PPARγ. When expressed at elevated levels in brown fat, TLE3 counters Prdm16, suppressing brown-selective genes and inducing white-selective genes, resulting in impaired fatty acid oxidation and thermogenesis. Conversely, mice lacking TLE3 in adipose tissue show enhanced thermogenesis in inguinal white adipose depots and are protected from age-dependent deterioration of brown adipose tissue function. Our results suggest that the establishment of distinct adipocyte phenotypes with different capacities for thermogenesis and lipid storage is accomplished in part through the cell type–selective recruitment of TLE3 or Prdm16 to key adipocyte target genes.
PMCID: PMC3626567  PMID: 23473036
14.  Lipins: Multifunctional Lipid Metabolism Proteins 
Annual review of nutrition  2010;30:257-272.
The lipin proteins are evolutionarily conserved proteins with roles in lipid metabolism and disease. There are three lipin protein family members in mammals and one or two orthologs in plants, invertebrates, and single-celled eukaryotes. Studies in yeast and mouse led to the identification of two distinct molecular functions of lipin proteins. Lipin proteins have phosphatidate phosphatase activity and catalyze the formation of diacylglycerol in the glycerol-3-phosphate pathway, implicating them in the regulation of triglyceride and phospholipid biosynthesis. Mammalian lipin proteins also possess transcriptional coactivator activity and have been implicated in the regulation of metabolic gene expression. Here we review key findings in the field that demonstrate roles for lipin family members in metabolic homeostasis and in rare human diseases, and we examine evidence implicating genetic variations in lipin genes in common metabolic dysregulation such as obesity, hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3738581  PMID: 20645851
triglyceride; obesity; insulin resistance; phosphatidate phosphatase; transcriptional coactivator
15.  The Sex Chromosome Trisomy mouse model of XXY and XYY: metabolism and motor performance 
Klinefelter syndrome (KS), caused by XXY karyotype, is characterized by low testosterone, infertility, cognitive deficits, and increased prevalence of health problems including obesity and diabetes. It has been difficult to separate direct genetic effects from hormonal effects in human studies or in mouse models of KS because low testosterone levels are confounded with sex chromosome complement.
In this study, we present the Sex Chromosome Trisomy (SCT) mouse model that produces XXY, XYY, XY, and XX mice in the same litters, each genotype with either testes or ovaries. The independence of sex chromosome complement and gonadal type allows for improved recognition of sex chromosome effects that are not dependent on levels of gonadal hormones. All mice were gonadectomized and treated with testosterone for 3 weeks. Body weight, body composition, and motor function were measured.
Before hormonal manipulation, XXY mice of both sexes had significantly greater body weight and relative fat mass compared to XY mice. After gonadectomy and testosterone replacement, XXY mice (both sexes) still had significantly greater body weight and relative fat mass, but less relative lean mass compared to XY mice. Liver, gonadal fat pad, and inguinal fat pad weights were also higher in XXY mice, independent of gonadal sex. In several of these measures, XX mice also differed from XY mice, and gonadal males and females differed significantly on almost every metabolic measure. The sex chromosome effects (except for testis size) were also seen in gonadally female mice before and after ovariectomy and testosterone treatment, indicating that they do not reflect group differences in levels of testicular secretions. XYY mice were similar to XY mice on body weight and metabolic variables but performed worse on motor tasks compared to other groups.
We find that the new SCT mouse model for XXY and XYY recapitulates features found in humans with these aneuploidies. We illustrate that this model has significant promise for unveiling the role of genetic effects compared to hormonal effects in these syndromes, because many phenotypes are different in XXY vs. XY gonadal female mice which have never been exposed to testicular secretions.
PMCID: PMC3751353  PMID: 23926958
Klinefelter; Sex chromosome trisomy; XXY; XYY; Mouse; X chromosome; Y chromosome; Body weight; Obesity
16.  PPM1l encodes an inositol requiring-protein 1 (IRE1) specific phosphatase that regulates the functional outcome of the ER stress response★ 
Molecular Metabolism  2013;2(4):405-416.
The protein phosphatase 1-like gene (PPM1l) was identified as causal gene for obesity and metabolic abnormalities in mice. However, the underlying mechanisms were unknown. In this report, we find PPM1l encodes an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane targeted protein phosphatase (PP2Ce) and has specific activity to basal and ER stress induced auto-phosphorylation of Inositol-REquiring protein-1 (IRE1). PP2Ce inactivation resulted in elevated IRE1 phosphorylation and higher expression of XBP-1, CHOP, and BiP at basal. However, ER stress stimulated XBP-1 and BiP induction was blunted while CHOP induction was further enhanced in PP2Ce null cells. PP2Ce protein levels are significantly induced during adipogenesis in vitro and are necessary for normal adipocyte maturation. Finally, we provide evidence that common genetic variation of PPM11 gene is significantly associated with human lipid profile. Therefore, PPM1l mediated IRE1 regulation and downstream ER stress signaling is a plausible molecular basis for its role in metabolic regulation and disorder.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC3854994  PMID: 24327956
IRE1; PPM1l; Protein phosphatase; ER stress; Adipogenesis
17.  Hybrid mouse diversity panel: a panel of inbred mouse strains suitable for analysis of complex genetic traits 
We have developed an association-based approach using classical inbred strains of mice in which we correct for population structure, which is very extensive in mice, using an efficient mixed-model algorithm. Our approach includes inbred parental strains as well as recombinant inbred strains in order to capture loci with effect sizes typical of complex traits in mice (in the range of 5 % of total trait variance). Over the last few years, we have typed the hybrid mouse diversity panel (HMDP) strains for a variety of clinical traits as well as intermediate phenotypes and have shown that the HMDP has sufficient power to map genes for highly complex traits with resolution that is in most cases less than a megabase. In this essay, we review our experience with the HMDP, describe various ongoing projects, and discuss how the HMDP may fit into the larger picture of common diseases and different approaches.
PMCID: PMC3586763  PMID: 22892838
18.  Reciprocal Metabolic Perturbations in the Adipose Tissue and Liver of GPIHBP1-deficient Mice 
Gpihbp1-deficient mice (Gpihbp1−/−) lack the ability to transport lipoprotein lipase to the capillary lumen, resulting in mislocalization of LPL within tissues, defective lipolysis of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, and chylomicronemia. We asked whether GPIHBP1 deficiency and mislocalization of catalytically active LPL would alter the composition of triglycerides in adipose tissue or perturb the expression of lipid biosynthetic genes. We also asked whether perturbations in adipose tissue composition and gene expression, if they occur, would be accompanied by reciprocal metabolic changes in the liver.
Methods and Results
The chylomicronemia in Gpihbp1−/− mice was associated with reduced levels of essential fatty acids in adipose tissue triglycerides and increased expression of lipid biosynthetic genes. The liver exhibited the opposite changes—increased levels of essential fatty acids in triglycerides and reduced expression of lipid biosynthetic genes.
Defective lipolysis in Gpihbp1−/− mice causes reciprocal metabolic perturbations in adipose tissue and liver. In adipose tissue, the essential fatty acid content of triglycerides is reduced and lipid biosynthetic gene expression is increased, while the opposite changes occur in the liver.
PMCID: PMC3281771  PMID: 22173228
lipoprotein lipase; hypertriglyceridemia; lipolysis; essential fatty acids; lipid biosynthetic genes
19.  ABCC6 Localizes to the Mitochondria-Associated Membrane 
Circulation research  2012;111(5):516-520.
Mutations of the orphan transporter ABCC6 (ATP-binding cassette, subfamily C, member 6) cause the connective tissue disorder pseudoxanthoma elasticum. ABCC6 was thought to be located on the plasma membrane of liver and kidney cells.
Mouse systems genetics and bioinformatics suggested that ABCC6 deficiency affects mitochondrial gene expression. We therefore tested whether ABCC6 associates with mitochondria.
Methods and Results
We found ABCC6 in crude mitochondrial fractions and subsequently pinpointed its localization to the purified mitochondria-associated membrane fraction. Cell-surface biotinylation in hepatocytes confirmed that ABCC6 is intracellular. Abcc6-knockout mice demonstrated mitochondrial abnormalities and decreased respiration reserve capacity.
Our finding that ABCC6 localizes to the mitochondria-associated membrane has implications for its mechanism of action in normal and diseased states.
PMCID: PMC3540978  PMID: 22811557
PXE; vascular calcification; ABCC6/MRP6; MAM; mitochondria; cardiovascular disease
20.  The Number of X Chromosomes Causes Sex Differences in Adiposity in Mice 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002709.
Sexual dimorphism in body weight, fat distribution, and metabolic disease has been attributed largely to differential effects of male and female gonadal hormones. Here, we report that the number of X chromosomes within cells also contributes to these sex differences. We employed a unique mouse model, known as the “four core genotypes,” to distinguish between effects of gonadal sex (testes or ovaries) and sex chromosomes (XX or XY). With this model, we produced gonadal male and female mice carrying XX or XY sex chromosome complements. Mice were gonadectomized to remove the acute effects of gonadal hormones and to uncover effects of sex chromosome complement on obesity. Mice with XX sex chromosomes (relative to XY), regardless of their type of gonad, had up to 2-fold increased adiposity and greater food intake during daylight hours, when mice are normally inactive. Mice with two X chromosomes also had accelerated weight gain on a high fat diet and developed fatty liver and elevated lipid and insulin levels. Further genetic studies with mice carrying XO and XXY chromosome complements revealed that the differences between XX and XY mice are attributable to dosage of the X chromosome, rather than effects of the Y chromosome. A subset of genes that escape X chromosome inactivation exhibited higher expression levels in adipose tissue and liver of XX compared to XY mice, and may contribute to the sex differences in obesity. Overall, our study is the first to identify sex chromosome complement, a factor distinguishing all male and female cells, as a cause of sex differences in obesity and metabolism.
Author Summary
Differences exist between men and women in the development of obesity and related metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have focused on the sex-biasing role of hormones produced by male and female gonads, but these cannot account fully for the sex differences in metabolism. We discovered that removal of the gonads uncovers an important genetic determinant of sex differences in obesity—the presence of XX or XY sex chromosomes. We used a novel mouse model to tease apart the effects of male and female gonads from the effects of XX or XY chromosomes. Mice with XX sex chromosomes (relative to XY), regardless of their type of gonad, had increased body fat and ate more food during the sleep period. Mice with two X chromosomes also had accelerated weight gain, fatty liver, and hyperinsulinemia on a high fat diet. The higher expression levels of a subset of genes on the X chromosome that escape inactivation may influence adiposity and metabolic disease. The effect of X chromosome genes is present throughout life, but may become particularly significant with increases in longevity and extension of the period spent with reduced gonadal hormone levels.
PMCID: PMC3349739  PMID: 22589744
21.  Deficiencies in lamin B1 and lamin B2 cause neurodevelopmental defects and distinct nuclear shape abnormalities in neurons 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(23):4683-4693.
Lamin B1 is essential for neuronal migration and progenitor proliferation during the development of the cerebral cortex. The observation of distinct phenotypes of Lmnb1- and Lmnb2-knockout mice and the differences in the nuclear morphology of cortical neurons in vivo suggest that lamin B1 and lamin B2 play distinct functions in the developing brain.
Neuronal migration is essential for the development of the mammalian brain. Here, we document severe defects in neuronal migration and reduced numbers of neurons in lamin B1–deficient mice. Lamin B1 deficiency resulted in striking abnormalities in the nuclear shape of cortical neurons; many neurons contained a solitary nuclear bleb and exhibited an asymmetric distribution of lamin B2. In contrast, lamin B2 deficiency led to increased numbers of neurons with elongated nuclei. We used conditional alleles for Lmnb1 and Lmnb2 to create forebrain-specific knockout mice. The forebrain-specific Lmnb1- and Lmnb2-knockout models had a small forebrain with disorganized layering of neurons and nuclear shape abnormalities, similar to abnormalities identified in the conventional knockout mice. A more severe phenotype, complete atrophy of the cortex, was observed in forebrain-specific Lmnb1/Lmnb2 double-knockout mice. This study demonstrates that both lamin B1 and lamin B2 are essential for brain development, with lamin B1 being required for the integrity of the nuclear lamina, and lamin B2 being important for resistance to nuclear elongation in neurons.
PMCID: PMC3226484  PMID: 21976703
22.  NF-E2–Related Factor 2 Promotes Atherosclerosis by Effects on Plasma Lipoproteins and Cholesterol Transport That Overshadow Antioxidant Protection 
To test the hypothesis that NF-E2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) expression plays an antiatherogenic role by its vascular antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Methods and Results
Nrf2 is an important transcription factor that regulates the expression of phase 2 detoxifying enzymes and antioxidant genes. Its expression in vascular cells appears to be an important factor in the protection against vascular oxidative stress and inflammation. We developed Nrf2 heterozygous (HET) and homozygous knockout (KO) mice on an apolipoprotein (apo) E–null background by sequential breeding, resulting in Nrf2−/−, apoE−/− (KO), Nrf2−/+, apoE−/− (HET) and Nrf2+/+, and apoE−/− wild-type littermates. KO mice exhibited decreased levels of antioxidant genes with evidence of increased reactive oxygen species generation compared with wild-type controls. Surprisingly, KO males exhibited 47% and 53% reductions in the degree of aortic atherosclerosis compared with HET or wild-type littermates, respectively. Decreased atherosclerosis in KO mice correlated with lower plasma total cholesterol in a sex-dependent manner. KO mice also had a decreased hepatic cholesterol content and a lower expression of lipogenic genes, suggesting that hepatic lipogenesis could be reduced. In addition, KO mice exhibited atherosclerotic plaques characterized by a lesser macrophage component and decreased foam cell formation in an in vitro lipid-loading assay. This was associated with a lower rate of cholesterol influx, mediated in part by decreased expression of the scavenger receptor CD36.
Nrf2 expression unexpectedly promotes atherosclerotic lesion formation in a sex-dependent manner, most likely by a combination of systemic metabolic and local vascular effects.
PMCID: PMC3037185  PMID: 20947826
atherosclerosis; cytokines; lipoproteins; reactive oxygen species; foam cell formation; lipogenesis; Nrf2
23.  Cholesterol Intake Modulates Plasma Triglyceride Levels in GPIHBP1-deficient Mice 
Adult GPIHBP1-deficient mice (Gpihbp1−/−) have severe hypertriglyceridemia; however, the plasma triglyceride levels are only mildly elevated during the suckling phase when lipoprotein lipase (Lpl) is expressed at high levels in the liver. Lpl expression in the liver can be induced in adult mice with dietary cholesterol. We therefore hypothesized that plasma triglyceride levels in adult Gpihbp1−/− mice would be sensitive to cholesterol intake.
Methods and Results
After 4–8 weeks on a western diet containing 0.15% cholesterol, plasma triglyceride levels in Gpihbp1−/− mice were 10,000–12,000 mg/dl. When 0.005% ezetimibe was added to the diet to block cholesterol absorption, Lpl expression in the liver was reduced significantly, and the plasma triglyceride levels were significantly higher (>15,000 mg/dl). We also assessed plasma triglyceride levels in Gpihbp1−/− mice fed western diets containing either high (1.3%) or low (0.05%) amounts of cholesterol. The high-cholesterol diet significantly increased Lpl expression in the liver and lowered plasma triglyceride levels.
Treatment of Gpihbp1−/− mice with ezetimibe lowers Lpl expression in the liver and increases plasma triglyceride levels. A high-cholesterol diet had the opposite effects. Thus, cholesterol intake modulates plasma triglyceride levels in Gpihbp1−/− mice.
PMCID: PMC2959134  PMID: 20814015
lipoprotein lipase; chylomicronemia; hypertriglyceridemia; GPIHBP1
24.  Agpat6—a Novel Lipid Biosynthetic Gene Required for Triacylglycerol Production in Mammary Epithelium 
Journal of lipid research  2006;47(4):734-744.
In analyzing the sequence tags for mutant mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines in BayGenomics (a mouse gene-trapping resource), we identified a novel gene, Agpat6, with sequence similarities to previously characterized glycerolipid acyltransferases. Agpat6’s closest family member is another novel gene that we have provisionally designated Agpat8. Both Agpat6 and Agpat8 are conserved from plants, nematodes, and flies to mammals. AGPAT6, which is predicted to contain multiple membrane-spanning helices, is found exclusively within the endoplasmic reticulum in mammalian cells. To gain insights into the in vivo importance of Agpat6, we used the Agpat6 ES cell line from BayGenomics to create Agpat6-deficient (Agpat6−/−) mice. Agpat6−/− mice lacked full-length Agpat6 transcripts, as judged by northern blots. One of the most striking phenotypes of Agpat6−/− mice was a defect in lactation. Pups nursed by Agpat6−/− mothers die perinatally. Normally, Agpat6 is expressed at high levels in the mammary epithelium of breast tissue, but not in the surrounding adipose tissue. Histological studies revealed that the aveoli and ducts of Agpat6−/− lactating mammary glands were underdeveloped, and there was a dramatic decrease in size and number of lipid droplets within mammary epithelial cells and ducts. Also, the milk from Agpat6−/− mice was markedly depleted in diacylglycerols and triacylglycerols. Thus, we identified a novel glycerolipid acyltransferase of the endoplasmic reticulum, AGPAT6, which is crucial for the production of milk fat by the mammary gland.
PMCID: PMC3196597  PMID: 16449762
LPAAT; acyltransferase; transacylase; milk fat
25.  Paraoxonase 2 Deficiency Alters Mitochondrial Function and Exacerbates the Development of Atherosclerosis 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;14(3):341-351.
Increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a result of decreased activities of mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) complexes plays a role in the development of many inflammatory diseases, including atherosclerosis. Our previous studies established that paraoxonase 2 (PON2) possesses antiatherogenic properties and is associated with lower ROS levels. The aim of the present study was to determine the mechanism by which PON2 modulates ROS production. In this report, we demonstrate that PON2-def mice on the hyperlipidemic apolipoprotein E−/− background (PON2-def/apolipoprotein E−/−) develop exacerbated atherosclerotic lesions with enhanced mitochondrial oxidative stress. We show that PON2 protein is localized to the inner mitochondrial membrane, where it is found associated with respiratory complex III. Employing surface-plasmon-resonance, we demonstrate that PON2 binds with high affinity to coenzyme Q10, an important component of the ETC. Enhanced mitochondrial oxidative stress in PON2-def mice was accompanied by significantly reduced ETC complex I + III activities, oxygen consumption, and adenosine triphosphate levels in PON2-def mice. In contrast, overexpression of PON2 effectively protected mitochondria from antimycin- or oligomycin-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction. Our results illustrate that the antiatherogenic effects of PON2 are, in part, mediated by the role of PON2 in mitochondrial function. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 341–351.
PMCID: PMC3011913  PMID: 20578959

Results 1-25 (33)