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Bile acids function not only as detergents that facilitate lipid absorption but also as signaling molecules that activate the nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor (FXR). FXR agonists are currently being evaluated as therapeutic agents for a number of hepatic diseases due to their lipid-lowering and antiinflammatory properties. FXR is also essential for maintaining bile acid homeostasis and prevents the accumulation of bile acids. Elevated bile acids activate FXR, which in turn switches off bile acid synthesis by reducing the mRNA levels of bile acid synthesis genes, including cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (Cyp7a1). Here, we show that FXR activation triggers a rapid posttranscriptional mechanism to degrade Cyp7a1 mRNA. We identified the RNA-binding protein Zfp36l1 as an FXR target gene and determined that gain and loss of function of ZFP36L1 reciprocally regulate Cyp7a1 mRNA and bile acid levels in vivo. Moreover, we found that mice lacking hepatic ZFP36L1 were protected from diet-induced obesity and steatosis. The reduced adiposity and antisteatotic effects observed in ZFP36L1-deficient mice were accompanied by impaired lipid absorption that was consistent with altered bile acid metabolism. Thus, the ZFP36L1-dependent regulation of bile acid metabolism is an important metabolic contributor to obesity and hepatosteatosis.

Original publication

DOI

10.1172/JCI94029

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Clin Invest

Publication Date

02/10/2017

Volume

127

Pages

3741 - 3754

Keywords

Animals, Bile Acids and Salts, Cholesterol 7-alpha-Hydroxylase, Fatty Liver, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Nuclear Proteins, Obesity, RNA-Binding Proteins, Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear