Inducible loss of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor activates perigonadal white fat respiration and brown fat thermogenesis via fibroblast growth factor 21

Nathaniel Girer, Dwayne Carter, Nisha Bhattarai, Mehnaz Mustafa, Larry Denner, Craig Porter, Cornelis Elferink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor highly expressed in hepatocytes. Researchers have employed global and liver-specific conditional Ahr knockout mouse models to characterize the physiological roles of the AHR; however, the gestational timing of AHR loss in these models can complicate efforts to distinguish the direct and indirect effects of post-gestational AHR deficiency. Utilizing a novel tamoxifen-inducible AHR knockout mouse model, we analyzed the effects of hepatocyte-targeted AHR loss in adult mice. The data demonstrate that AHR deficiency significantly reduces weight gain and adiposity, and increases multilocular lipid droplet formation within perigonadal white adipose tissue (gWAT). Protein and mRNA expression of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), an important hepatokine that activates thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT) and gWAT, significantly increases upon AHR loss and correlates with a significant increase of BAT and gWAT respiratory capacity. Confirming the role of FGF21 in mediating these effects, this phenotype is reversed in mice concomitantly lacking AHR and FGF21 expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses suggest that the AHR may constitutively suppress Fgf21 transcription through binding to a newly identified xenobiotic response element within the Fgf21 promoter. The data demonstrate an important AHR-FGF21 regulatory axis that influences adipose biology and may represent a “druggable” therapeutic target for obesity and its related metabolic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number950
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2 2019

Keywords

  • Aryl hydrocarbon receptor
  • Fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Uncoupling protein 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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