The protein, thyroid hormone-responsive SPOT 14 homolog (Thrsp), has been reported to be a lipogenic gene in cultured hepatocytes, implicating an important role of Thrsp in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Thrsp expression is known to be regulated by a variety of transcription factors, including thyroid hormone receptor, pregnane X receptor, and constitutive androstane receptor. Emerging in vitro evidence also points to a critical role of liver X receptor (LXR) in regulating Thrsp transcription in hepatocytes. In the present study, we showed that Thrsp was up-regulated in livers of db/db mice and high-fat-diet-fed mice, two models of murine NAFLD. Hepatic overexpression of Thrsp increased triglyceride accumulation with enhanced lipogenesis in livers of C57Bl/6 mice, whereas hepatic Thrsp gene silencing attenuated the fatty liver phenotype in db/db mice. LXR activator TO901317 induced Thrsp expression in livers of wild-type (WT) and LXR-β gene-deficient mice, but not in LXR-α or LXR-α/β double-knockout mice. TO901317 treatment significantly enhanced hepatic sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) expression and activity in WT mice, but failed to induce Thrsp expression in SREBP-1c gene-deficient mice. Sequence analysis revealed four LXR response-element-like elements and one sterol regulatory element (SRE)-binding site within a -2,468 ∼+1-base-pair region of the Thrsp promoter. TO901317 treatment and LXR-α overexpression failed to induce, whereas overexpression of SREBP-1c significantly increased Thrsp promoter activity. Moreover, deletion of the SRE site completely abolished SREBP-1c-induced Thrsp transcription. Conclusion: Thrsp is a lipogenic gene in the liver that is induced by the LXR agonist through an LXR-α-mediated, SREBP-1c-dependent mechanism. Therefore, Thrsp may represent a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of NAFLD.
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