Inactivation of the E3 Ubiquitin Ligase IDOL Attenuates Diet-Induced Obesity and Metabolic Dysfunction in Mice

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The E3 ubiquitin ligase IDOL (inducible degrader of the LDLR [LDL (low-density lipoprotein) receptor]) is a post-transcriptional regulator of LDLR abundance. Model systems and human genetics support a role for IDOL in regulating circulating LDL levels. Whether IDOL plays a broader metabolic role and affects development of metabolic syndrome-associated comorbidities is unknown.

Approach and Results—

We studied WT (wild type) and Idol(−/−) (Idol-KO) mice in 2 models: physiological aging and diet-induced obesity. In both models, deletion of Idol protected mice from metabolic dysfunction. On a Western-type diet, Idol loss resulted in decreased circulating levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and insulin. This was accompanied by protection from weight gain in short- and long-term dietary challenges, which could be attributed to reduced hepatosteatosis and fat mass in Idol-KO mice. Although feeding and intestinal fat uptake were unchanged in Idol-KO mice, their brown adipose tissue was protected from lipid accumulation and had elevated expression of UCP1 (uncoupling protein 1) and TH (tyrosine hydroxylase). Indirect calorimetry indicated a marked increase in locomotion and suggested a trend toward increased cumulative energy expenditure and fat oxidation. An increase in in vivo clearance of reconstituted lipoprotein particles in Idol-KO mice may sustain this energetic demand. In the BXD mouse genetic reference population, hepatic Idol expression correlates with multiple metabolic parameters, thus providing support for findings in the Idol-KO mice.


Our study uncovers an unrecognized role for Idol in regulation of whole body metabolism in physiological aging and on a Western-type diet. These findings support Idol inhibition as a therapeutic strategy to target multiple metabolic syndrome-associated comorbidities.

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