The deubiquitinating enzyme TNFAIP3 mediates inactivation of hepatic ASK1 and ameliorates nonalcoholic steatohepatitis

Zhang, P; Wang, PX; Zhao, LP; Zhang, X; Ji, YX; Zhang, XJ; Fang, C; Lu, YX; Yang, X; Gao, MM; Zhang, Y; Tian, S; Zhu, XY; Gong, J; Ma, XL; Li, F; Wang, ZH; Huang, Z; She, ZG; Li, HL

She, ZG; Li, HL (reprint author), Wuhan Univ, Dept Cardiol, Renmin Hosp, Wuhan, Hubei, Peoples R China.; She, ZG; Li, HL (reprint author), Wuhan Univ, Inst Model Anim, Wuhan, Hubei, Peoples R China.; She, ZG; Li, HL (reprint author), Wuhan Univ, Basic Med

NATURE MEDICINE, 2018; 24 (1): 84


Activation of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) in hepatocytes is a key process in the progression of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and a promising target for treatment of the condition. However, the mechanism underlying ASK1 activation is still unclear, and thus the endogenous regulators of this kinase remain open to be exploited as potential therapeutic targets. In screening for proteins that interact with ASK1 in the context of NASH, we identified the deubiquitinase tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 3 (TNFAIP3) as a key endogenous suppressor of ASK1 activation, and we found that TNFAIP3 directly interacts with and deubiquitinates ASK1 in hepatocytes. Hepatocyte-specific ablation of Tnfaip3 exacerbated nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-and NASH-related phenotypes in mice, including glucose metabolism disorders, lipid accumulation and enhanced inflammation, in an ASK1-dependent manner. In contrast, transgenic or adeno-associated virus-mediated TNFAIP3 gene delivery in the liver in both mouse and nonhuman primate models of NASH substantially blocked the onset and progression of the disease. These results implicate TNFAIP3 as a functionally important endogenous suppressor of ASK1 hyperactivation in the pathogenesis of NASH and identify it as a potential new molecular target for NASH therapy.

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