Evolution of the bile salt nuclear receptor FXR in vertebrates.
ABSTRACT: Bile salts, the major end metabolites of cholesterol, vary significantly in structure across vertebrate species, suggesting that nuclear receptors binding these molecules may show adaptive evolutionary changes. We compared across species the bile salt specificity of the major transcriptional regulator of bile salt synthesis, the farnesoid X receptor (FXR). We found that FXRs have changed specificity for primary bile salts across species by altering the shape and size of the ligand binding pocket. In particular, the ligand binding pockets of sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) and zebrafish (Danio rerio) FXRs, as predicted by homology models, are flat and ideal for binding planar, evolutionarily early bile alcohols. In contrast, human FXR has a curved binding pocket best suited for the bent steroid ring configuration typical of evolutionarily more recent bile acids. We also found that the putative FXR from the sea squirt Ciona intestinalis, a chordate invertebrate, was completely insensitive to activation by bile salts but was activated by sulfated pregnane steroids, suggesting that the endogenous ligands of this receptor may be steroidal in nature. Our observations present an integrated picture of the coevolution of bile salt structure and of the binding pocket of their target nuclear receptor FXR.
Project description:The farnesoid X receptor (FXR), pregnane X receptor (PXR), and vitamin D receptor (VDR) are three closely related nuclear hormone receptors in the NR1H and 1I subfamilies that share the property of being activated by bile salts. Bile salts vary significantly in structure across vertebrate species, suggesting that receptors binding these molecules may show adaptive evolutionary changes in response. We have previously shown that FXRs from the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) and zebrafish (Danio rerio) are activated by planar bile alcohols found in these two species. In this report, we characterize FXR, PXR, and VDR from the green-spotted pufferfish (Tetraodon nigriviridis), an actinopterygian fish that unlike the zebrafish has a bile salt profile similar to humans. We utilize homology modelling, docking, and pharmacophore studies to understand the structural features of the Tetraodon receptors.Tetraodon FXR has a ligand selectivity profile very similar to human FXR, with strong activation by the synthetic ligand GW4064 and by the primary bile acid chenodeoxycholic acid. Homology modelling and docking studies suggest a ligand-binding pocket architecture more similar to human and rat FXRs than to lamprey or zebrafish FXRs. Tetraodon PXR was activated by a variety of bile acids and steroids, although not by the larger synthetic ligands that activate human PXR such as rifampicin. Homology modelling predicts a larger ligand-binding cavity than zebrafish PXR. We also demonstrate that VDRs from the pufferfish and Japanese medaka were activated by small secondary bile acids such as lithocholic acid, whereas the African clawed frog VDR was not.Our studies provide further evidence of the relationship between both FXR, PXR, and VDR ligand selectivity and cross-species variation in bile salt profiles. Zebrafish and green-spotted pufferfish provide a clear contrast in having markedly different primary bile salt profiles (planar bile alcohols for zebrafish and sterically bent bile acids for the pufferfish) and receptor selectivity that matches these differences in endogenous ligands. Our observations to date present an integrated picture of the co-evolution of bile salt structure and changes in the binding pockets of three nuclear hormone receptors across the species studied.
Project description:The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is a genetically programmed animal model for biliary atresia, as it loses its bile ducts and gallbladder during metamorphosis. However, in contrast to patients with biliary atresia or other forms of cholestasis who develop progressive disease, the postmetamorphosis lampreys grow normally to adult size. To understand how the adult lamprey thrives without the ability to secrete bile, we examined bile salt homeostasis in larval and adult lampreys. Adult livers were severely cholestatic, with levels of bile salts >1 mM, but no evidence of necrosis, fibrosis, or inflammation. Interestingly, both larvae and adults had normal plasma levels (?10 ?M) of bile salts. In larvae, petromyzonol sulfate (PZS) was the predominant bile salt, whereas the major bile salts in adult liver were sulfated C27 bile alcohols. Cytotoxicity assays revealed that PZS was highly toxic. Pharmacokinetic studies in free-swimming adults revealed that ?35% of intravenously injected bromosulfophthalein (BSP) was eliminated over a 72-hour period. Collection of urine and feces demonstrated that both endogenous and exogenous organic anions, including biliverdin, bile salts, and BSP, were predominantly excreted by way of the kidney, with minor amounts also detected in feces. Gene expression analysis detected marked up-regulation of orthologs of known organic anion and bile salt transporters in the kidney, with lesser effects in the intestine and gills in adults compared to larvae. These findings indicate that adult lampreys tolerate cholestasis by altering hepatic bile salt composition, while maintaining normal plasma bile salt levels predominantly through renal excretion of bile products. Therefore, we conclude that strategies to accelerate renal excretion of bile salt and other toxins should be beneficial for patients with cholestasis. (HEPATOLOGY 2013;57:2418-2426).
Project description:In vertebrates, bile salts are primarily synthesized in the liver and secreted into the intestine where they aid in absorption of dietary fats. Small amounts of bile salts that are not reabsorbed into enterohepatic circulation are excreted with waste. In sexually mature male sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus L.) a bile salt is released in large amounts across gill epithelia into water where it functions as a pheromone. We postulate that the release of this pheromone is associated with a dramatic increase in its biosynthesis and transport to the gills upon sexual maturation.We show an 8000-fold increase in transcription of cyp7a1, a three-fold increase in transcription of cyp27a1, and a six-fold increase in transcription of cyp8b1 in the liver of mature male sea lamprey over immature male adults. LC-MS/MS data on tissue-specific distribution and release rates of bile salts from mature males show a high concentration of petromyzonol sulfate (PZS) in the liver and gills of mature males. 3-keto petromyzonol sulfate (3kPZS, known as a male sex pheromone) is the primary compound released from gills, suggesting a conversion of PZS to 3kPZS in the gill epithelium. The PZS to 3kPZS conversion is supported by greater expression of hsd3b7 in gill epithelium. High expression of sult2b1 and sult2a1 in gill epithelia of mature males, and tissue-specific expression of bile salt transporters such as bsep, slc10a1, and slc10a2, suggest additional sulfation and transport of bile salts that are dependent upon maturation state.This report presents a rare example where specific genes associated with biosynthesis and release of a sexual pheromone are dramatically upregulated upon sexual maturation in a vertebrate. We provide a well characterized example of a complex mechanism of bile salt biosynthesis and excretion that has likely evolved for an additional function of bile salts as a mating pheromone.
Project description:Bile salt synthesis is a specialized liver function in vertebrates. Bile salts play diverse roles in digestion and signaling, and their homeostasis is maintained by controlling input (biosynthesis) and intestinal conservation. Patients with biliary atresia (i.e., obliteration of the biliary tree) suffer liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. In contrast, sea lamprey thrives despite developmental biliary atresia. We discovered that the sea lamprey adapts to biliary atresia through a unique mechanism of de novo synthesis and secretion of bile salts in intestine after developmental biliary atresia, in addition to known mechanisms, such as the reduction of bile salt synthesis in liver. During and after developmental biliary atresia, expression of cyp7a1 in intestine increased by more than 100-fold (P < 0.001), whereas in liver it decreased by the same magnitude (P < 0.001). Concurrently, bile salt pools changed in similar patterns and magnitudes in these two organs and the composition shifted from C24 bile alcohol sulfates to taurine-conjugated C24 bile acids. In addition, both in vivo and ex vivo experiments showed that aductular sea lamprey secreted taurocholic acid into its intestinal lumen. Our results indicate that the sea lamprey, a jawless vertebrate, may be in an evolutionarily transitional state where bile salt synthesis occurs in both liver and intestine. Understanding the molecular basis of these mechanisms may shed light on the evolution of bile salt synthesis and possible therapy for infant biliary atresia.
Project description:The nuclear receptor FXR acts as an intracellular bile salt sensor that regulates synthesis and transport of bile salts within their enterohepatic circulation. In addition, FXR is involved in control of a variety of crucial metabolic pathways. Four FXR splice variants are known, i.e. FXR?1-4. Although these isoforms show differences in spatial and temporal expression patterns as well as in transcriptional activity, the physiological relevance hereof has remained elusive. We have evaluated specific roles of hepatic FXR?2 and FXR?4 by stably expressing these isoforms using liver-specific self-complementary adeno-associated viral vectors in total body FXR knock-out mice. The hepatic gene expression profile of the FXR knock-out mice was largely normalized by both isoforms. Yet, differential effects were also apparent; FXR?2 was more effective in reducing elevated HDL levels and transrepressed hepatic expression of Cyp8b1, the regulator of cholate synthesis. The latter coincided with a switch in hydrophobicity of the bile salt pool. Furthermore, FXR?2-transduction caused an increased neutral sterol excretion compared to FXR?4 without affecting intestinal cholesterol absorption. Our data show, for the first time, that hepatic FXR?2 and FXR?4 differentially modulate bile salt and lipoprotein metabolism in mice.
Project description:The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in regulating many physiological systems of the host, including the metabolic and immune system. Disturbances in microbiota composition are increasingly correlated with disease; however, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Recent evidence suggests that changes in microbiota composition directly affect the metabolism of bile salts. Next to their role in digestion of dietary fats, bile salts function as signaling molecules for bile salt receptors such as Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and G protein-coupled bile acid receptor (TGR5). Complementary to their role in metabolism, FXR and TGR5 are shown to play a role in intestinal homeostasis and immune regulation. This review presents an overview of evidence showing that changes in bile salt pool and composition due to changes in gut microbial composition contribute to the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic disease, possibly through altered activation of TGR5 and FXR. We further discuss how dietary interventions, such as pro- and synbiotics, may be used to treat metabolic disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) through normalization of bile acid dysregulation directly or indirectly through normalization of the intestinal microbiota.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Bile salts likely contribute to liver injury in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). Fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) is a bile salt-induced enterokine with hepatoprotective potential as it suppresses de novo bile salt synthesis. Here, we evaluated the bile salt receptor FXR/FGF19 gut-liver axis in PSC and PBC patients.<h4>Methods</h4>Fasted patients with PSC (n = 12) and PBC (n = 10), and healthy controls (HC; n = 10) were orally challenged with the natural FXR agonist chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA 15 mg/kg). Blood was sampled hourly until 8 h afterwards. Serum FGF19 and bile salt excursions were determined. Serum levels of 7?-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (C4), reflecting bile salt synthesis, were measured as a biomarker of FGF19 response.<h4>Results</h4>Baseline serum FGF19 levels were comparable between groups, while fasted bile salt levels in PSC patients were elevated. Upon CDCA challenge, HC and PBC patients showed a serum FGF19 peak after 4 h followed by a decline. PSC patients showed a prolonged and elevated serum FGF19 response up to 8 h, combined with a sustained serum elevation of CDCA and other bile salts. In general, C4 levels declined following FGF19 elevation. In PSC patients with less favorable prognosis, baseline C4 levels were drastically suppressed and did not further decline.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Following an oral CDCA challenge, PSC patients showed an impaired clearance of CDCA and a prolonged serum FGF19 response. FXR agonist therapy in PSC could cause prolonged exposure to elevated levels of FGF19, and we propose careful monitoring for detrimental side effects in patient studies.
Project description:The farnesoid X receptor (FXR), a member of the nuclear hormone receptor family, plays important roles in the regulation of bile acid and cholesterol homeostasis, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. There is intense interest in understanding the mechanisms of FXR regulation and in developing pharmaceutically suitable synthetic FXR ligands that might be used to treat metabolic syndrome. We report here the identification of a potent FXR agonist (MFA-1) and the elucidation of the structure of this ligand in ternary complex with the human receptor and a coactivator peptide fragment using x-ray crystallography at 1.9-A resolution. The steroid ring system of MFA-1 binds with its D ring-facing helix 12 (AF-2) in a manner reminiscent of hormone binding to classical steroid hormone receptors and the reverse of the pose adopted by naturally occurring bile acids when bound to FXR. This binding mode appears to be driven by the presence of a carboxylate on MFA-1 that is situated to make a salt-bridge interaction with an arginine residue in the FXR-binding pocket that is normally used to neutralize bound bile acids. Receptor activation by MFA-1 differs from that by bile acids in that it relies on direct interactions between the ligand and residues in helices 11 and 12 and only indirectly involves a protonated histidine that is part of the activation trigger. The structure of the FXR:MFA-1 complex differs significantly from that of the complex with a structurally distinct agonist, fexaramine, highlighting the inherent plasticity of the receptor.
Project description:Autotaxin (ATX) generates the lipid mediator lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). ATX-LPA signalling is involved in multiple biological and pathophysiological processes, including vasculogenesis, fibrosis, cholestatic pruritus and tumour progression. ATX has a tripartite active site, combining a hydrophilic groove, a hydrophobic lipid-binding pocket and a tunnel of unclear function. We present crystal structures of rat ATX bound to 7?-hydroxycholesterol and the bile salt tauroursodeoxycholate (TUDCA), showing how the tunnel selectively binds steroids. A structure of ATX simultaneously harbouring TUDCA in the tunnel and LPA in the pocket, together with kinetic analysis, reveals that bile salts act as partial non-competitive inhibitors of ATX, thereby attenuating LPA receptor activation. This unexpected interplay between ATX-LPA signalling and select steroids, notably natural bile salts, provides a molecular basis for the emerging association of ATX with disorders associated with increased circulating levels of bile salts. Furthermore, our findings suggest potential clinical implications in the use of steroid drugs.
Project description:The nuclear receptor FXR acts as an intracellular bile salt sensor that regulates synthesis and transport of bile salts within their enterohepatic circulation. In addition, FXR is involved in control of a variety of crucial metabolic pathways. Four FXR splice variants are known, i.e. FXRα1-4. Although these isoforms show differences in spatial and temporal expression patterns as well as in transcriptional activity, the physiological relevance hereof has remained elusive. We have evaluated specific roles of hepatic FXRα2 and FXRα4 by stably expressing these isoforms using liver-specific self-complementary adeno-associated viral vectors in total body FXR knock-out mice. The hepatic gene expression profile of the FXR knock-out mice was largely normalized by both isoforms. Yet, differential effects were also apparent; FXRα2 was more effective in reducing elevated HDL levels and transrepressed hepatic expression of Cyp8B1, the regulator of cholate synthesis. The latter coincided with a switch in hydrophobicity of the bile salt pool. Furthermore, FXRα2-transduction caused an increased neutral sterol excretion compared to FXRα4 without affecting intestinal cholesterol absorption. Our data show, for the first time, that hepatic FXRα2 and FXRα4 differentially modulate bile salt and lipoprotein metabolism in mice. Overall design: Total RNA obtained from liver were compared in the 2 different groups, 6 isoform fxr2 transduced frx-/- mice were compared with 6 isoform fxr4 transduced frx-/- mice. All animals received chow diet supplemeted with 0.5% cholate (CA).