Transcriptional Regulation of the Bile Acid Transporters ABCG5/ABCG8

ATP-binding cassette half-transporters G5 and G8 (ABCG5 and ABCG8) play important roles in the control of sterol excretion from the liver (Fitzgerald et al. 2010; Tarling and Edwards 2012; Li et al. 2013; Yu et al. 2014). Mutations in either of these transporters leads to β-sitosterolemia, an autosomal recessive disease characterized by premature coronary atherosclerosis and elevated levels of phytosterols in plasma (Fitzgerald et al. 2010; Tarling and Edwards 2012; Li et al. 2013; Yu et al. 2014). Mice lacking ABCG5 and ABCG8 proteins have decreased ability to secrete sterols into the bile (Yu et al. 2002a). The overexpression of ABCG5 and ABCG8 in the liver increases biliary cholesterol secretion and decreases dietary cholesterol absorption (Yu et al. 2002b). The human ABCG5 and ABCG8 genes are oriented in a head-to-head configuration, they are transcribed in opposite directions, and their transcription is coordinated by a short 374 bp bidirectional promoter in the intergenic region (Remaley et al. 2002).

The bidirectional promoter of ABCG5/ABCG8 genes contains a binding site for LRH-1 at positions 134–142 which is required for the activity of both the ABCG5 and ABCG8 promoters (Freeman et al. 2004). Mutating this LRH-1 binding site reduced promoter activity of the human ABCG5/ABCG8 intergenic region in HepG2 and Caco2 cells. Bile acids such as deoxycholic acid repressed ABCG5 and ABCG8 promoters via the FXR-SHP-LXR pathway that was described above (Sumi et al. 2007).

Dietary cholesterol feeding was shown to increase duodenal, jejunal, and hepatic expression levels of ABCG5 and ABCG8 mRNA in wild-type mice (Berge et al. 2000). The increase in ABCG5 or ABCG8 gene expression by diet was compromised in mice lacking either LXRα or both LXRα and LXRβ (Repa et al. 2002). Both the RXR-specific agonist LG268 and the LXR-specific agonist T0901317 caused upregulation of ABCG5 and ABCG8 mRNA expression in the liver and intestine of wild-type mice but not in LXRα/β-/mice (Repa et al. 2002). To identify functional LXREs that control the expression of the ABCG5/ABCG8 genes in response to oxysterols, a recent study searched for evolutionarily conserved regions (ECRs) between the human and the mouse genes and identified23 ECRs which were studied by luciferase assays for LXR responsiveness (Back et al. 2013). Two ECRs were found to be responsive to the LXR and binding of LXRα to these regions was verified (Back et al. 2013).

The bidirectional promoter of the ABCG5/G8 genes was shown to bind HNF-4 and GATA transcription factors and to be regulated by these factors in a cooperative manner and independent of the orientation of the bidirectional promoter (Sumi et al. 2007).

It was shown that the expression of both ABCG5 and ABCG8 genes is upregulated in the livers of mice with genetic ablation of the insulin receptor gene (LIRKO mice) both at the mRNA and the protein levels (Biddinger et al. 2008). In agreement with these findings, insulin suppressed the expression of ABCG5 and ABCG8 genes at subnanomolar concentrations and in a doseresponsive manner in rat hepatoma cells (Biddinger et al. 2008). The observation that the short intergenic region responded to insulin in both the ABCG5 and ABCG8 orientations suggested the presence of an element in the intragenic region of the ABCG5 and ABCG8 genes that responds to insulin. Using ex vivo and in vivo approaches, it was shown that insulin resistance leads to the activation of the forkhead box 1 (FOXO1) transcription factor which binds to the bidirectional promoter and activates the transcription of both genes severalfold (Biddinger et al. 2008).

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