Saturated fatty acids induce post-transcriptional regulation of HAMP mRNA via AU-rich element-binding protein, human antigen R (HuR)

Sizhao Lu, Justin L. Mott, Duygu Dee Harrison-Findik

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8 Scopus citations


Iron is implicated in fatty liver disease pathogenesis. The human hepcidin gene, HAMP, is the master switch of iron metabolism. The aim of this study is to investigate the regulation of HAMP expression by fatty acids in HepG2 cells. For these studies, both saturated fatty acids (palmitic acid (PA) and stearic acid (SA)) and unsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid (OA)) were used. PA and, to a lesser extent, SA, but not OA, up-regulated HAMP mRNA levels, as determined by real-time PCR. To understand whether PA regulates HAMP mRNA at the transcriptional or post-transcriptional level, the transcription inhibitor actinomycin D was employed. PA-mediated induction of HAMP mRNA expression was not blocked by actinomycin D. Furthermore, PA activated HAMP 3′-UTR, but not promoter, activity, as shown by reporter assays. HAMP 3′-UTR harbors a single AU-rich element (ARE). Mutation of this ARE abolished the effect of PA, suggesting the involvement of ARE-binding proteins. The ARE-binding protein human antigen R (HuR) stabilizes mRNA through direct interaction with AREs on 3′-UTR. HuR is regulated by phosphorylation-mediated nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling. PA activated this process. The binding of HuR to HAMP mRNA was also induced by PA in HepG2 cells. Silencing of HuR by siRNA abolished PA-mediated up-regulation of HAMP mRNA levels. PKC is known to phosphorylate HuR. Staurosporine, a broad-spectrum PKC inhibitor, inhibited both PA-mediated translocation of HuR and induction of HAMP expression. Similarly, rottlerin, a novel class PKC inhibitor, abrogated PA-mediated up-regulation of HAMP expression. In conclusion, lipids mediate post-transcriptional regulation of HAMP through PKC- and HuR-dependent mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24178-24189
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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