Wnt/β-catenin signaling activation promotes lipogenesis in the steatotic liver via physical mTOR interaction

pubmed: wnt1 2024-05-26

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2023 Dec 13;14:1289004. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2023.1289004. eCollection 2023.


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays an important role in regulating hepatic metabolism. This study is to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the potential crosstalk between Wnt/β-catenin and mTOR signaling in hepatic steatosis.

METHODS: Transgenic mice (overexpress Wnt1 in hepatocytes, Wnt+) mice and wild-type littermates were given high fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks to induce hepatic steatosis. Mouse hepatocytes cells (AML12) and those transfected to cause constitutive β-catenin stabilization (S33Y) were treated with oleic acid for lipid accumulation.

RESULTS: Wnt+ mice developed more hepatic steatosis in response to HFD. Immunoblot shows a significant increase in the expression of fatty acid synthesis-related genes (SREBP-1 and its downstream targets ACC, AceCS1, and FASN) and a decrease in fatty acid oxidation gene (MCAD) in Wnt+ mice livers under HFD. Wnt+ mice also revealed increased Akt signaling and its downstream target gene mTOR in response to HFD. In vitro, increased lipid accumulation was detected in S33Y cells in response to oleic acid compared to AML12 cells reinforcing the in vivo findings. mTOR inhibition by rapamycin led to a down-regulation of fatty acid synthesis in S33Y cells. In addition, β-catenin has a physical interaction with mTOR as verified by co-immunoprecipitation in hepatocytes.

CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, our results demonstrate that β-catenin stabilization through Wnt signaling serves a central role in lipid metabolism in the steatotic liver through up-regulation of fatty acid synthesis via Akt/mTOR signaling. These findings suggest hepatic Wnt signaling may represent a therapeutic strategy in hepatic steatosis.

PMID:38152126 | PMC:PMC10751342 | DOI:10.3389/fendo.2023.1289004