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J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 26;286(34):29635-43. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.253039. Epub 2011 Jul 3.

Diurnal regulation of the early growth response 1 (Egr-1) protein expression by hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha (HNF4alpha) and small heterodimer partner (SHP) cross-talk in liver fibrosis.

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Department of Medicine, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132, USA.


Early growth response 1 (Egr-1) protein is a critical regulator of genes contributing to liver fibrosis; however, little is known about the upstream transcriptional factors that control its expression. Here we show that Egr-1 expression is tightly regulated by nuclear receptor signaling. Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α) activated the Egr-1 promoter through three DR1 response elements as identified by trans-activation assays. Deletion of these response elements or knockdown of HNF4α using siRNA largely abrogated Egr-1 promoter activation. HNF4α activity, as well as its enrichment on the Egr-1 promoter, were markedly repressed by small heterodimer partner (SHP) co-expression. Egr-1 mRNA and protein were transiently induced by HNF4α. On the contrary, HNF4α siRNA reduced Egr-1 expression at both the mRNA and protein levels, and overexpression of SHP reversed these effects. Conversely, knockdown of SHP by siRNA elevated Egr-1 protein. Interestingly, Egr-1 mRNA exhibited diurnal fluctuation, which was synchronized to the cyclic expression of SHP and HNF4α after cells were released from serum shock. Unexpectedly, the levels of Egr-1 mRNA and protein were highly up-regulated in Hnf4α(-/-) mice. Both HNF4α and Egr-1 expression were dramatically increased in SHP(-/-) mice with bile duct ligation and in human cirrhotic livers, which was inversely correlated with diminished SHP expression. In conclusion, our study revealed control network for Egr-1 expression through a feedback loop between SHP and HNF4α.

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