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OBJECTIVE - The loss of liver glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) promotes liver steatosis and the transition to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Previous work showed endogenous glucose production is reduced in GNMT-null mice with gluconeogenic precursors being used in alternative biosynthetic pathways that utilize methyl donors and are linked to tumorigenesis. This metabolic programming occurs before the appearance of HCC in GNMT-null mice. The metabolic physiology that sustains liver tumor formation in GNMT-null mice is unknown. The studies presented here tested the hypothesis that nutrient flux pivots from glucose production to pathways that incorporate and metabolize methyl groups in GNMT-null mice with HCC.
METHODS - H/C metabolic flux analysis was performed in conscious, unrestrained mice lacking GNMT to quantify glucose formation and associated nutrient fluxes. Molecular analyses of livers from mice lacking GNMT including metabolomic, immunoblotting, and immunochemistry were completed to fully interpret the nutrient fluxes.
RESULTS - GNMT knockout (KO) mice showed lower blood glucose that was accompanied by a reduction in liver glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. NAD was lower and the NAD(P)H-to-NAD(P) ratio was higher in livers of KO mice. Indices of NAD synthesis and catabolism, pentose phosphate pathway flux, and glutathione synthesis were dysregulated in KO mice.
CONCLUSION - Glucose precursor flux away from glucose formation towards pathways that regulate redox status increase in the liver. Moreover, synthesis and scavenging of NAD are both impaired resulting in reduced concentrations. This metabolic program blunts an increase in methyl donor availability, however, biosynthetic pathways underlying HCC are activated.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH.. All rights reserved.
Glycine -methyltransferase (GNMT) is the most abundant liver methyltransferase regulating the availability of the biological methyl donor, -adenosylmethionine (SAM). Moreover, GNMT has been identified to be down-regulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Despite its role in regulating SAM levels and association of its down-regulation with liver tumorigenesis, the impact of reduced GNMT on metabolic reprogramming before the manifestation of HCC has not been investigated in detail. Herein, we used H/C metabolic flux analysis in conscious, unrestrained mice to test the hypothesis that the absence of GNMT causes metabolic reprogramming. GNMT-null (KO) mice displayed a reduction in blood glucose that was associated with a decline in both hepatic glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. The reduced gluconeogenesis was due to a decrease in liver gluconeogenic precursors, citric acid cycle fluxes, and anaplerosis and cataplerosis. A concurrent elevation in both hepatic SAM and metabolites of SAM utilization pathways was observed in the KO mice. Specifically, the increase in metabolites of SAM utilization pathways indicated that hepatic polyamine synthesis and catabolism, transsulfuration, and lipogenesis pathways were increased in the KO mice. Of note, these pathways utilize substrates that could otherwise be used for gluconeogenesis. Also, this metabolic reprogramming occurs before the well-documented appearance of HCC in GNMT-null mice. Together, these results indicate that GNMT deletion promotes a metabolic shift whereby nutrients are channeled away from glucose formation toward pathways that utilize the elevated SAM.
© 2018 Hughey et al.
Glycine-N-methyltransferase (GNMT) is essential to preserve liver homeostasis. Cirrhotic patients show low expression of GNMT that is absent in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples. Accordingly, GNMT deficiency in mice leads to steatohepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and HCC. Lack of GNMT triggers NK cell activation in GNMT(-/-) mice and depletion of TRAIL significantly attenuates acute liver injury and inflammation in these animals. Chronic inflammation leads to fibrogenesis, further contributing to the progression of chronic liver injury regardless of the etiology. The aim of our study is to elucidate the implication of TRAIL-producing NK cells in the progression of chronic liver injury and fibrogenesis. For this we generated double TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice in which we found that TRAIL deficiency efficiently protected the liver against chronic liver injury and fibrogenesis in the context of GNMT deficiency. Next, to better delineate the implication of TRAIL-producing NK cells during fibrogenesis we performed bile duct ligation (BDL) to GNMT(-/-) and TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice. In GNMT(-/-) mice, exacerbated fibrogenic response after BDL concurred with NK1.1(+) cell activation. Importantly, specific inhibition of TRAIL-producing NK cells efficiently protected GNMT(-/-) mice from BDL-induced liver injury and fibrogenesis. Finally, TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice showed significantly less fibrosis after BDL than GNMT(-/-) mice further underlining the relevance of the TRAIL/DR5 axis in mediating liver injury and fibrogenesis in GNMT(-/-) mice. Finally, in vivo silencing of DR5 efficiently protected GNMT(-/-) mice from BDL-liver injury and fibrogenesis, overall underscoring the key role of the TRAIL/DR5 axis in promoting fibrogenesis in the context of absence of GNMT. Overall, our work demonstrates that TRAIL-producing NK cells actively contribute to liver injury and further fibrogenesis in the pathological context of GNMT deficiency, a molecular scenario characteristic of chronic human liver disease.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs) export lipids from the liver to peripheral tissues and are the precursors of low-density-lipoproteins. Low levels of hepatic S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) decrease triglyceride (TG) secretion in VLDLs, contributing to hepatosteatosis in methionine adenosyltransferase 1A knockout mice but nothing is known about the effect of SAMe on the circulating VLDL metabolism. We wanted to investigate whether excess SAMe could disrupt VLDL plasma metabolism and unravel the mechanisms involved.
METHODS - Glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) knockout (KO) mice, GNMT and perilipin-2 (PLIN2) double KO (GNMT-PLIN2-KO) and their respective wild type (WT) controls were used. A high fat diet (HFD) or a methionine deficient diet (MDD) was administrated to exacerbate or recover VLDL metabolism, respectively. Finally, 33 patients with non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease (NAFLD); 11 with hypertriglyceridemia and 22 with normal lipidemia were used in this study.
RESULTS - We found that excess SAMe increases the turnover of hepatic TG stores for secretion in VLDL in GNMT-KO mice, a model of NAFLD with high SAMe levels. The disrupted VLDL assembly resulted in the secretion of enlarged, phosphatidylethanolamine-poor, TG- and apoE-enriched VLDL-particles; special features that lead to increased VLDL clearance and decreased serum TG levels. Re-establishing normal SAMe levels restored VLDL secretion, features and metabolism. In NAFLD patients, serum TG levels were lower when hepatic GNMT-protein expression was decreased.
CONCLUSIONS - Excess hepatic SAMe levels disrupt VLDL assembly and features and increase circulating VLDL clearance, which will cause increased VLDL-lipid supply to tissues and might contribute to the extrahepatic complications of NAFLD.
Copyright © 2014 European Association for the Study of the Liver. All rights reserved.
The hippocampus is a brain area characterized by its high plasticity, observed at all levels of organization: molecular, synaptic, and cellular, the latter referring to the capacity of neural precursors within the hippocampus to give rise to new neurons throughout life. Recent findings suggest that promoter methylation is a plastic process subjected to regulation, and this plasticity seems to be particularly important for hippocampal neurogenesis. We have detected the enzyme GNMT (a liver metabolic enzyme) in the hippocampus. GNMT regulates intracellular levels of SAMe, which is a universal methyl donor implied in almost all methylation reactions and, thus, of prime importance for DNA methylation. In addition, we show that deficiency of this enzyme in mice (Gnmt-/-) results in high SAMe levels within the hippocampus, reduced neurogenic capacity, and spatial learning and memory impairment. In vitro, SAMe inhibited neural precursor cell division in a concentration-dependent manner, but only when proliferation signals were triggered by bFGF. Indeed, SAMe inhibited the bFGF-stimulated MAP kinase signaling cascade, resulting in decreased cyclin E expression. These results suggest that alterations in the concentration of SAMe impair neurogenesis and contribute to cognitive decline.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
UNLABELLED - Methionine adenosyltransferase 1A (MAT1A) and glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) are the primary genes involved in hepatic S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) synthesis and degradation, respectively. Mat1a ablation in mice induces a decrease in hepatic SAMe, activation of lipogenesis, inhibition of triglyceride (TG) release, and steatosis. Gnmt-deficient mice, despite showing a large increase in hepatic SAMe, also develop steatosis. We hypothesized that as an adaptive response to hepatic SAMe accumulation, phosphatidylcholine (PC) synthesis by way of the phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) N-methyltransferase (PEMT) pathway is stimulated in Gnmt(-/-) mice. We also propose that the excess PC thus generated is catabolized, leading to TG synthesis and steatosis by way of diglyceride (DG) generation. We observed that Gnmt(-/-) mice present with normal hepatic lipogenesis and increased TG release. We also observed that the flux from PE to PC is stimulated in the liver of Gnmt(-/-) mice and that this results in a reduction in PE content and a marked increase in DG and TG. Conversely, reduction of hepatic SAMe following the administration of a methionine-deficient diet reverted the flux from PE to PC of Gnmt(-/-) mice to that of wildtype animals and normalized DG and TG content preventing the development of steatosis. Gnmt(-/-) mice with an additional deletion of perilipin2, the predominant lipid droplet protein, maintain high SAMe levels, with a concurrent increased flux from PE to PC, but do not develop liver steatosis.
CONCLUSION - These findings indicate that excess SAMe reroutes PE towards PC and TG synthesis and lipid sequestration.
Copyright © 2013 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Patients with cirrhosis are at high risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and their liver tissues have abnormal levels of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). Glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) catabolizes SAMe, but its expression is down-regulated in HCC cells. Mice that lack GNMT develop fibrosis and hepatomas and have alterations in signaling pathways involved in carcinogenesis. We investigated the role of GNMT in human HCC cell lines and in liver carcinogenesis in mice.
METHODS - We studied hepatoma cells from GNMT knockout mice and analyzed the roles of liver kinase B1 (LKB1, STK11) signaling via 5'-adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and Ras in regulating proliferation and transformation.
RESULTS - Hepatoma cells from GNMT mice had defects in LKB1 signaling to AMPK, making them resistant to induction of apoptosis by adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate activation of protein kinase A and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase 2. Ras-mediated hyperactivation of LKB1 promoted proliferation of GNMT-deficient hepatoma cells and required mitogen-activated protein kinase 2 (ERK) and ribosomal protein S6 kinase polypeptide 2 (p90RSK). Ras activation of LKB1 required expression of RAS guanyl releasing protein 3 (RASGRP3). Reduced levels of GNMT and phosphorylation of AMPKα at Thr172 and increased levels of Ras, LKB1, and RASGRP3 in HCC samples from patients were associated with shorter survival times.
CONCLUSIONS - Reduced expression of GNMT in mouse hepatoma cells and human HCC cells appears to increase activity of LKB1 and RAS; activation of RAS signaling to LKB1 and RASGRP3, via ERK and p90RSK, might be involved in liver carcinogenesis and be used as a prognostic marker. Reagents that disrupt this pathway might be developed to treat patients with HCC.
Copyright © 2012 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
UNLABELLED - Glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) catabolizes S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), the main methyl donor of the body. Patients with cirrhosis show attenuated GNMT expression, which is absent in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples. GNMT(-/-) mice develop spontaneous steatosis that progresses to steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and HCC. The liver is highly enriched with innate immune cells and plays a key role in the body's host defense and in the regulation of inflammation. Chronic inflammation is the major hallmark of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) progression. The aim of our study was to uncover the molecular mechanisms leading to liver chronic inflammation in the absence of GNMT, focusing on the implication of natural killer (NK) / natural killer T (NKT) cells. We found increased expression of T helper (Th)1- over Th2-related cytokines, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-R2/DR5, and several ligands of NK cells in GNMT(-/-) livers. Interestingly, NK cells from GNMT(-/-) mice were spontaneously activated, expressed more TRAIL, and had strong cytotoxic activity, suggesting their contribution to the proinflammatory environment in the liver. Accordingly, NK cells mediated hypersensitivity to concanavalin A (ConA)-mediated hepatitis in GNMT(-/-) mice. Moreover, GNMT(-/-) mice were hypersensitive to endotoxin-mediated liver injury. NK cell depletion and adoptive transfer of TRAIL(-/-) liver-NK cells protected the liver against lipopolysaccharide (LPS) liver damage.
CONCLUSION - Our data allow us to conclude that TRAIL-producing NK cells actively contribute to promote a proinflammatory environment at early stages of fatty liver disease, suggesting that this cell compartment may contribute to the progression of NASH.
Copyright © 2012 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
This paper reports studies of two patients proven by a variety of studies to have mitochondrial depletion syndromes due to mutations in either their MPV17 or DGUOK genes. Each was initially investigated metabolically because of plasma methionine concentrations as high as 15-21-fold above the upper limit of the reference range, then found also to have plasma levels of S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) 4.4-8.6-fold above the upper limit of the reference range. Assays of S-adenosylhomocysteine, total homocysteine, cystathionine, sarcosine, and other relevant metabolites and studies of their gene encoding glycine N-methyltransferase produced evidence suggesting they had none of the known causes of elevated methionine with or without elevated AdoMet. Patient 1 grew slowly and intermittently, but was cognitively normal. At age 7 years he was found to have hepatocellular carcinoma, underwent a liver transplant and died of progressive liver and renal failure at age almost 9 years. Patient 2 had a clinical course typical of DGUOK deficiency and died at age 8 ½ months. Although each patient had liver abnormalities, evidence is presented that such abnormalities are very unlikely to explain their elevations of AdoMet or the extent of their hypermethioninemias. A working hypothesis is presented suggesting that with mitochondrial depletion the normal usage of AdoMet by mitochondria is impaired, AdoMet accumulates in the cytoplasm of affected cells poor in glycine N-methyltransferase activity, the accumulated AdoMet causes methionine to accumulate by inhibiting activity of methionine adenosyltransferase II, and that both AdoMet and methionine consequently leak abnormally into the plasma.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) is a key regulatory enzyme in methyl group metabolism. In mammalian liver it reduces S-adenosylmethionine levels by using it to methylate glycine, producing N-methylglycine (sarcosine) and S-adenosylhomocysteine. GNMT is inhibited by binding two molecules of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (mono- or polyglutamate forms) per tetramer of the active enzyme. Inhibition is sensitive to the status of the N-terminal valine of GNMT and to polyglutamation of the folate inhibitor. It is inhibited by pentaglutamate form more efficiently compared to monoglutamate form. The native rat liver GNMT contains an acetylated N-terminal valine and is inhibited much more efficiently compared to the recombinant protein expressed in E. coli where the N-terminus is not acetylated. In this work we used a protein crystallography approach to evaluate the structural basis for these differences. We show that in the folate-GNMT complexes with the native enzyme, two folate molecules establish three and four hydrogen bonds with the protein. In the folate-recombinant GNMT complex only one hydrogen bond is established. This difference results in more effective inhibition by folate of the native liver GNMT activity compared to the recombinant enzyme.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.