Hepatic HNF4alpha deficiency induces periportal expression of glutamine synthetase and other pericentral enzymes

V.S. Stanulovic, I. Kyrmizi, M. Kruithof de Julio, M. Hoogenkamp, J.L. Vermeulen, J.M. Ruijter, I. Talianidis, T.B.M. Hakvoort, W.H. Lamers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Web of Science)


In liver, most genes are expressed with a porto-central gradient. The transcription factor hepatic nuclear-factor4alpha (HNF4alpha) is associated with 12% of the genes in adult liver, but its involvement in zonation of gene expression has not been investigated. A putative HNF4alpha-response element in the upstream enhancer of glutamine synthetase (GS), an exclusively pericentral enzyme, was protected against DNase-I and interacted with a protein that is recognized by HNF4alpha-specific antiserum. Chromatin-immunoprecipitation assays of HNF4alpha-deficient (H4LivKO) and control (H4Flox) livers with HNF4alpha antiserum precipitated the GS upstream enhancer DNA only from H4Flox liver. Identical results were obtained with a histone-deacetylase1 (HDAC1) antibody, but antibodies against HDAC3, SMRT and SHP did not precipitate the GS upstream enhancer. In H4Flox liver, GS, ornithine aminotransferase (OAT) and thyroid hormone-receptor beta1 (TRbeta1) were exclusively expressed in pericentral hepatocytes. In H4LivKO liver, this pericentral expression remained unaffected, but the genes were additionally expressed in the periportal hepatocytes, albeit at a lower level. The expression of the periportal enzyme phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase had declined in HNF4alpha-deficient hepatocytes. GS-negative cells, which were present as single, large hepatocytes or as groups of small cells near portal veins, did express HNF4alpha. Clusters of very small GS- and HNF4alpha-negative, and PCNA- and OV6-positive cells near portal veins were contiguous with streaks of brightly HNF4alpha-positive, OV6-, PCNA-, and PEPCK-dim cells. Conclusion: Our findings show that HNF4alpha suppresses the expression of pericentral proteins in periportal hepatocytes, possibly via a HDAC1-mediated mechanism. Furthermore, we show that HNF4alpha deficiency induces foci of regenerating hepatocytes. (HEPATOLOGY 2007;45:433-444.). AD - AMC Liver Center, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-444
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

Cite this