PPARα Downregulates Hepatic Glutaminase Expression in Mice Fed Diets with Different Protein:Carbohydrate Ratios1–3

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Glutamine is catabolized in the liver by glutaminase 2 (GLS2). Evidence suggests that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor a (PPARa) represses the expression of several amino acid-catabolizing enzymes, but for Gls2 this is unknown.


The aim of the study was to assess whether PPARα regulates Gls2 expression.


For 8 d, 7–9-wk-old male C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) and Ppara-null mice weighing 23.4 ± 0.5 g were fed diets with different dietary protein:carbohydrate (DP:DCH) ratios (6%:77%, 20%:63%, or 50%:33%). Liver samples were obtained after 16 h of feed deprivation or 3 h of refeeding, and microarrays were performed. Hepatic glutaminase expression was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting. Cotransfection analyses in hepatocellular carcinoma cell line (HepG2) cells with PPARα and hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α) expression vectors were performed.


The microarray results showed that Gls2 was the only upregulated gene in WT mice, but not in the Ppara-null mice. In the feed-deprived WT mice, the Gls2 mRNA and protein abundances in the 50%:33% group were 2.5- and 1.1-fold greater (P < 0.05), respectively, than those in the 20%:63% group, which were 2.3-and 0.4-fold greater than those in the 6%:77% group (P < 0.01). Gls2 mRNA expression in the 6%:77% group of feed-deprived Ppara-null mice was 33-fold greater than that in the same group of WT mice (P < 0.0001). GLS2 protein abundance in HepG2 cells was 78% greater than that in the controls (P < 0.0001) after HNF4α overexpression, and it was 99% greater after transfection with a short hairpin targeting PPARα.


In Ppara-null mice, Gls2 mRNA expression was greater than in WT mice, regardless of the DP:DCH ratio. In HepG2 cells overexpressing HNF4α, Gls2 expression increased, an effect repressed by overexpression of PPARα. This suggests that Gls2 depends on the PPARα/HNF4α counterregulatory transcriptional control.

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