Andrew Duncan, Associate Professor in the Pathology department and member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, along with PLRC members Evan Delgado, Bharat Bhushan, Joseph Locker, Michael Jurczak and others publish an article in the American Journal of Pathology entitled, “Dysregulation of Lipid and Glucose Homeostasis in Hepatocyte-Specific SLC25A34 Knockout Mice”.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an epidemic affecting 30% of the US population. It is characterized by insulin resistance, and by defective lipid metabolism and mitochondrial dysfunction in the liver. SLC25A34 is a major repressive target of miR-122, a miR that has a central role in NAFLD and liver cancer. However, little is known about the function of SLC25A34. To investigate SLC25A34 in vitro, mitochondrial respiration and bioenergetics were examined using hepatocytes depleted of Slc25a34 or overexpressing Slc25a34. To test the function of SLC25A34 in vivo, a hepatocyte-specific knockout mouse was generated, and loss of SLC25A34 was assessed in mice maintained on a chow diet and a fast-food diet (FFD), a model for NAFLD. Hepatocytes depleted of Slc25a34 displayed increased mitochondrial biogenesis, lipid synthesis, and ADP/ATP ratio; Slc25a34overexpression had the opposite effect. In the knockout model on chow diet, SLC25A34 loss modestly affected liver function (altered glucose metabolism was the most pronounced defect). RNA-sequencing revealed changes in metabolic processes, especially fatty acid metabolism. After 2 months on FFD, knockouts had a more severe phenotype, with increased lipid content and impaired glucose tolerance, which was attenuated after longer FFD feeding (6 months). This work thus presents a novel model for studying SLC25A34 in vivo in which SLC25A34 plays a role in mitochondrial respiration and bioenergetics during NAFLD.