De novo lipogenesis is tightly regulated by insulin and nutritional signals to maintain metabolic homeostasis; excessive lipogenesis induces lipotoxicity, leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and type 2 diabetes. Genetic lipogenic programs have been extensively investigated, but epigenetic regulation of lipogenesis is poorly understood. Here, we identified Slug as an important epigenetic regulator of lipogenesis. Hepatic Slug levels were markedly upregulated in mice by either feeding or insulin treatment. In primary hepatocytes, insulin stimulation increased Slug expression, stability, and interactions with epigenetic enzyme lysine-specific demethylase-1 (Lsd1). Slug bound to the fatty acid synthase (Fasn) promoter where Slug-associated Lsd1 catalyzed H3K9 demethylation, thereby stimulating Fasn expression and lipogenesis. Ablation of Slug blunted insulin-stimulated lipogenesis; conversely, overexpression of Slug, but not a Lsd1 binding-defective Slug mutant, stimulated Fasn expression and lipogenesis. Lsd1 inhibitor treatment also blocked Slug-stimulated lipogenesis. Remarkably, hepatocyte-specific deletion of Slug inhibited the hepatic lipogenic program and protected against obesity-associated NAFLD, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance in mice. Conversely, liver-restricted overexpression of Slug, but not the Lsd1 binding-defective Slug mutant, had the opposite effects. These results unveil an insulin/Slug/Lsd1/H3K9 demethylation lipogenic pathway that promotes NAFLD and type 2 diabetes.
Yan Liu, Haiyan Lin, Lin Jiang, Qingsen Shang, Lei Yin, Jiandie D. Lin, Wen-Shu Wu, Liangyou Rui