Metformin inhibits hepatocellular glucose, lipid and cholesterol biosynthetic pathways by transcriptionally suppressing steroid receptor coactivator 2 (SRC-2)
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The ability of the anti-diabetic drug metformin to inhibit anabolic processes including gluconeogenesis and lipogenesis is partly attributable to activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway. The p160 steroid receptor coactivator 2 (SRC-2) is a key regulator of cellular metabolism and drives expression of the gluconeogenic enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase (G6Pc). Here, we uncovered a role for SRC-2 in the metabolic reprogramming imposed by metformin. In FaO cells, metformin dose-dependently reduced mRNA expression of SRC-2. Microarray analysis of metformin- treated cells revealed an overrepresentation of downregulated genes involved in biosynthesis of lipids and cholesterol. Several metformin-regulated genes including fatty acid synthase (FASN) were validated as transcriptional targets of SRC-2 with promoters characterized by sterol regulatory element (SRE) binding protein (SREBP) recognition sequences. Transactivation assays of the FASN promoter confirmed that SRC-2 is a coactivator of SREBP-1. By suppressing SRC-2 at the transcriptional level, metformin impeded recruitment of SRC-2 and RNA polymerase II to the G6Pc promoter and to SREs of mutual SRC-2/SREBP-1 target gene promoters. Hepatocellular fat accretion was reduced by metformin or knock-down of both SRC-2 and SREBP-1. Accordingly we propose that metformin inhibits glucose and lipid biosynthesis partly by downregulating SRC-2 gene expression.