Genetic variants near the TRIB1 gene are highly significantly associated with plasma lipid traits and coronary artery disease. While TRIB1 is likely causal of these associations, the molecular mechanisms are not well understood. Here we sought to investigate how TRIB1 influences low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels in mice. Hepatocyte-specific deletion of Trib1 (Trib1Δhep) in mice increased plasma cholesterol and apoB and slowed the catabolism of LDL-apoB due to decreased levels of LDL receptor (LDLR) mRNA and protein. Simultaneous deletion of the transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (CEBPα) with TRIB1 eliminated the effects of TRIB1 on hepatic LDLR regulation and LDL catabolism. Using RNA-seq, we found that activating transcription factor 3 (Atf3) was highly upregulated in the livers of Trib1Δhep but not Trib1Δhep CebpaΔhep mice. ATF3 has been shown to directly bind to the CEBPα protein, and to repress the expression of LDLR by binding its promoter. Blunting the increase of ATF3 in Trib1Δhep mice reduced the levels of plasma cholesterol and partially attenuated the effects on LDLR. Based on these data, we conclude that deletion of Trib1 leads to a posttranslational increase in CEBPα, which increases ATF3 levels, thereby contributing to the downregulation of LDLR and increased plasma LDL-C.
Katherine Quiroz-Figueroa, Cecilia Vitali, Donna M. Conlon, John S. Millar, John W. Tobias, Robert C. Bauer, Nicholas J. Hand, Daniel J. Rader