Lipogenic transcription factor ChREBP mediates fructose-induced metabolic adaptations to prevent hepatotoxicity

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Epidemiologic and animal studies implicate overconsumption of fructose in the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, but the molecular mechanisms underlying fructose-induced chronic liver diseases remain largely unknown. Here, we have presented evidence supporting the essential function of the lipogenic transcription factor carbohydrate response element–binding protein (ChREBP) in mediating adaptive responses to fructose and protecting against fructose-induced hepatotoxicity. In WT mice, a high-fructose diet (HFrD) activated hepatic lipogenesis in a ChREBP-dependent manner; however, in Chrebp-KO mice, a HFrD induced steatohepatitis. In Chrebp-KO mouse livers, a HFrD reduced levels of molecular chaperones and activated the C/EBP homologous protein–dependent (CHOP-dependent) unfolded protein response, whereas administration of a chemical chaperone or Chop shRNA rescued liver injury. Elevated expression levels of cholesterol biosynthesis genes in HFrD-fed Chrebp-KO livers were paralleled by an increased nuclear abundance of sterol regulatory element–binding protein 2 (SREBP2). Atorvastatin-mediated inhibition of hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis or depletion of hepatic Srebp2 reversed fructose-induced liver injury in Chrebp-KO mice. Mechanistically, we determined that ChREBP binds to nuclear SREBP2 to promote its ubiquitination and destabilization in cultured cells. Therefore, our findings demonstrate that ChREBP provides hepatoprotection against a HFrD by preventing overactivation of cholesterol biosynthesis and the subsequent CHOP-mediated, proapoptotic unfolded protein response. Our findings also identified a role for ChREBP in regulating SREBP2-dependent cholesterol metabolism.

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