Lipogenic SREBP-1a/c transcription factors activate expression of the iron regulator hepcidin, revealing cross-talk between lipid and iron metabolisms

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The sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs) are a family of transcription factors best known for stimulating the expression of genes encoding key lipogenic enzymes. However, SREBP functions beyond lipid metabolism are less understood. Here, we show that hepcidin antimicrobial peptide (Hamp), encoding the hormone hepcidin essential for iron homeostasis and regulated by dietary iron and inflammation, is a target gene of the two SREBP isoforms SREBP-1a/c.Wefound that in tissue culture, mature, active, and nuclear forms of the SREBP-1a/c proteins induce endogenous Hamp gene expression and increase the Hamp promoter activity primarily via three regulatory sequences, including an E-box. Moreover, ChIP experiments revealed that SREBP-1a binds to the Hamp gene promoter. Overexpression of nuclear SREBP-1a under the control of the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase-1 (Pck1) promoter in mice increased hepatic Hamp mRNA and blood hepcidin levels, and as expected, caused fatty liver. Consistent with the known effects of Hamp up-regulation, SREBP-1a-overexpressing mice displayed signs of dysregulation in iron metabolism, including reduced serum iron and increased hepatic and splenic iron storage. Conversely, liver-specific depletion of the nuclear forms of SREBPs, as in SREBP cleavage- activating protein knockout mice, impaired lipopolysaccharide- induced up-regulation of hepatic Hamp. Together, these results indicate that the SREBP-1a/c transcription regulators activate hepcidin expression and thereby contribute to the control of mammalian iron metabolism.


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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