von Hippel Lindau tumor suppressor regulates hepatic glucose metabolism by controlling expression of glucose transporter 2 and glucose 6-phosphatase.
ABSTRACT von Hippel Lindau (VHL) disease is a hereditary cancer syndrome caused by biallelic inactivation of the VHL tumor suppressor gene. The most widely known function of VHL is to limit normoxic protein expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-alpha (HIF-alpha). Loss of the functional VHL gene causes constitutive stabilization of HIF-alpha that primarily up-regulates hypoxia-inducible genes even at normal oxygen concentration, which in turn contribute to VHL tumor progression. We report on the novel function of VHL in hepatic glucose storage and disposal. VHL deletion in adult mouse liver quickly leads to increased accumulation of glycogen granules as well as lipid droplets. This abnormal glycogen storage in VHL-inactivated liver arises at least in part from significantly reduced expression of two key liver-specific glucose metabolism genes, glucose transporter-2 (GLUT2) and glucose-6-phosphatase (G-6-Pase). The expression pattern of these genes in VHL knock-out liver was in contrast to that of well-known HIF target genes, such as PGK, Glut-1, VEGF, and EPO, all of which are highly elevated upon VHL inactivation. Our findings suggest that two distinct signaling pathways exist at the downstream of VHL controlling different sets of gene expression. Following VHL inactivation, one pathway causes oxygen-independent overexpression of classic hypoxia-inducible genes and the other one described here suppresses expression of the genes important for liver glucose metabolism.
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ABSTRACT: The Vhlh gene codes for the von Hippel-Lindau protein (VHL), a tumor suppressor that is a key player in the cellular response to oxygen sensing. In humans, a germline mutation in the VHL gene leads to the von Hippel-Lindau disease, a familial syndrome characterized by benign and malignant tumors of the kidney, central nervous system, and pancreas. We use Cre-lox recombination to eliminate Vhlh in adult mouse pancreatic beta-cells. Morphology of mutant islets is assessed by immunofluorescence analysis. To determine the functional state of Vhlh(-/-) islets, insulin secretion is measured in vivo and in vitro, and quantitative PCR is used to identify changes in gene expression. Loss of VHL in beta-cells leads to a severe glucose-intolerant phenotype in adult animals. Although VHL is not required for beta-cell specification and development, it is critical for beta-cell function. Insulin production is normal in beta-cells lacking VHL; however, insulin secretion in the presence of high concentrations of glucose is impaired. Furthermore, the loss of VHL leads to dysregulation of glycolytic enzymes, pointing to a perturbation of the intracellular energy homeostasis. We show that loss of VHL in beta-cells leads to defects in glucose homeostasis, indicating an important and previously unappreciated role for VHL in beta-cell function. We believe that the beta-cell-specific Vhlh-deficient mice might be a useful tool as a "genetic hypoxia" model, to unravel the possible link between hypoxia signaling and impairment of beta-cell function.Diabetes 12/2008; 58(2):433-41. · 8.29 Impact Factor
Article: Deciphering von Hippel-Lindau (VHL/Vhl)-associated pancreatic manifestations by inactivating Vhl in specific pancreatic cell populations.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome is a pleomorphic familial disease characterized by the development of highly vascularized tumors, such as hemangioblastomas of the central nervous system, pheochromocytomas, renal cell carcinomas, cysts and neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas. Up to 75% of VHL patients are affected by VHL-associated pancreatic lesions; however, very few reports in the published literature have described the cellular origins and biological roles of VHL in the pancreas. Since homozygous loss of Vhl in mice resulted in embryonic lethality, this study aimed to characterize the functional significance of VHL in the pancreas by conditionally inactivating Vhl utilizing the Cre/LoxP system. Specifically, Vhl was inactivated in different pancreatic cell populations distinguished by their roles during embryonic organ development and their endocrine lineage commitment. With Cre recombinase expression directed by a glucagon promoter in alpha-cells or an insulin promoter in beta-cells, we showed that deletion of Vhl is dispensable for normal functions of the endocrine pancreas. In addition, deficiency of VHL protein (pVHL) in terminally differentiated alpha-cells or beta-cells is insufficient to induce pancreatic neuroendocrine tumorigenesis. Most significantly, we presented the first mouse model of VHL-associated pancreatic disease in mice lacking pVHL utilizing Pdx1-Cre transgenic mice to inactivate Vhl in pancreatic progenitor cells. The highly vascularized microcystic adenomas and hyperplastic islets that developed in Pdx1-Cre;Vhl f/f homozygous mice exhibited clinical features similar to VHL patients. Establishment of three different, cell-specific Vhl knockouts in the pancreas have allowed us to provide evidence suggesting that VHL is functionally important for postnatal ductal and exocrine pancreas, and that VHL-associated pancreatic lesions are likely to originate from progenitor cells, not mature endocrine cells. The novel model systems reported here will provide the basis for further functional and genetic studies to define molecular mechanisms involved in VHL-associated pancreatic diseases.PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(4):e4897. · 4.09 Impact Factor