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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Apr 1;100(7):4012-7. Epub 2003 Mar 21.

Regulation of hepatic fasting response by PPARgamma coactivator-1alpha (PGC-1): requirement for hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha in gluconeogenesis.

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  • 1Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The liver plays several critical roles in the metabolic adaptation to fasting. We have shown previously that the transcriptional coactivator peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1alpha (PGC-1alpha) is induced in fasted or diabetic liver and activates the entire program of gluconeogenesis. PGC-1alpha interacts with several nuclear receptors known to bind gluconeogenic promoters including the glucocorticoid receptor, hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha (HNF4alpha), and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. However, the genetic requirement for any of these interactions has not been determined. Using hepatocytes from mice lacking HNF4alpha in the liver, we show here that PGC-1alpha completely loses its ability to activate key genes of gluconeogenesis such as phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase and glucose-6-phosphatase when HNF4alpha is absent. It is also shown that PGC-1alpha can induce genes of beta-oxidation and ketogenesis in hepatocytes, but these effects do not require HNF4alpha. Analysis of the glucose-6-phosphatase promoter indicates a key role for HNF4alpha-binding sites that function robustly only when HNF4alpha is coactivated by PGC-1alpha. These data illustrate the involvement of PGC-1alpha in several aspects of the hepatic fasting response and show that HNF4alpha is a critical component of PGC-1alpha-mediated gluconeogenesis.

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