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PLoS Genet. 2012;8(3):e1002585. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002585. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Intronic cis-regulatory modules mediate tissue-specific and microbial control of angptl4/fiaf transcription.

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1
Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.

Abstract

The intestinal microbiota enhances dietary energy harvest leading to increased fat storage in adipose tissues. This effect is caused in part by the microbial suppression of intestinal epithelial expression of a circulating inhibitor of lipoprotein lipase called Angiopoietin-like 4 (Angptl4/Fiaf). To define the cis-regulatory mechanisms underlying intestine-specific and microbial control of Angptl4 transcription, we utilized the zebrafish system in which host regulatory DNA can be rapidly analyzed in a live, transparent, and gnotobiotic vertebrate. We found that zebrafish angptl4 is transcribed in multiple tissues including the liver, pancreatic islet, and intestinal epithelium, which is similar to its mammalian homologs. Zebrafish angptl4 is also specifically suppressed in the intestinal epithelium upon colonization with a microbiota. In vivo transgenic reporter assays identified discrete tissue-specific regulatory modules within angptl4 intron 3 sufficient to drive expression in the liver, pancreatic islet β-cells, or intestinal enterocytes. Comparative sequence analyses and heterologous functional assays of angptl4 intron 3 sequences from 12 teleost fish species revealed differential evolution of the islet and intestinal regulatory modules. High-resolution functional mapping and site-directed mutagenesis defined the minimal set of regulatory sequences required for intestinal activity. Strikingly, the microbiota suppressed the transcriptional activity of the intestine-specific regulatory module similar to the endogenous angptl4 gene. These results suggest that the microbiota might regulate host intestinal Angptl4 protein expression and peripheral fat storage by suppressing the activity of an intestine-specific transcriptional enhancer. This study provides a useful paradigm for understanding how microbial signals interact with tissue-specific regulatory networks to control the activity and evolution of host gene transcription.

PMID:
22479192
PMCID:
PMC3315460
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1002585
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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