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      Retinoic Acid-Related Orphan Receptor γ (RORγ): A Novel Participant in the Diurnal Regulation of Hepatic Gluconeogenesis and Insulin Sensitivity

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          The hepatic circadian clock plays a key role in the daily regulation of glucose metabolism, but the precise molecular mechanisms that coordinate these two biological processes are not fully understood. In this study, we identify a novel connection between the regulation of RORγ by the clock machinery and the diurnal regulation of glucose metabolic networks. We demonstrate that particularly at daytime, mice deficient in RORγ exhibit improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance due to reduced hepatic gluconeogenesis. This is associated with a reduced peak expression of several glucose metabolic genes critical in the control of gluconeogenesis and glycolysis. Genome-wide cistromic profiling, promoter and mutation analysis support the concept that RORγ regulates the transcription of several glucose metabolic genes directly by binding ROREs in their promoter regulatory region. Similar observations were made in liver-specific RORγ-deficient mice suggesting that the changes in glucose homeostasis were directly related to the loss of hepatic RORγ expression. Altogether, our study shows that RORγ regulates several glucose metabolic genes downstream of the hepatic clock and identifies a novel metabolic function for RORγ in the diurnal regulation of hepatic gluconeogenesis and insulin sensitivity. The inhibition of the activation of several metabolic gene promoters by an RORγ antagonist suggests that antagonists may provide a novel strategy in the management of metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

          Author Summary

          The circadian clock plays a critical role in the regulation of many physiological processes, including metabolism and energy homeostasis. The retinoic acid-related orphan receptor γ (RORγ) functions as a ligand-dependent transcription factor that regulates transcription by binding as a monomer to ROR-responsive elements. In liver, RORγ exhibits a robust circadian pattern of expression that is under direct control of the hepatic circadian clock. However, the connection between the circadian regulation of RORγ and its control of downstream metabolic processes is not well understood. In this study, by using ubiquitous and liver-specific RORγ-deficient mice as models, we demonstrate that hepatic RORγ modulates daily insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance by regulating hepatic gluconeogenesis. Genome-wide cistromic profiling, gene expression, and promoter analysis revealed that RORγ is targeting and regulating a number of novel metabolic genes critical in the control of glycolysis and gluconeogenesis pathways. We provide evidence for a model in which RORγ regulates the circadian expression of glucose metabolic genes in the liver downstream of the hepatic circadian clock, thereby enhancing gluconeogenesis and decreasing insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. This study suggests that attenuating RORγ activity by antagonists might be beneficial for the management of glucose metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Circadian integration of metabolism and energetics.

          Circadian clocks align behavioral and biochemical processes with the day/night cycle. Nearly all vertebrate cells possess self-sustained clocks that couple endogenous rhythms with changes in cellular environment. Genetic disruption of clock genes in mice perturbs metabolic functions of specific tissues at distinct phases of the sleep/wake cycle. Circadian desynchrony, a characteristic of shift work and sleep disruption in humans, also leads to metabolic pathologies. Here, we review advances in understanding the interrelationship among circadian disruption, sleep deprivation, obesity, and diabetes and implications for rational therapeutics for these conditions.
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            T helper 17 lineage differentiation is programmed by orphan nuclear receptors ROR alpha and ROR gamma.

            T cell functional differentiation is mediated by lineage-specific transcription factors. T helper 17 (Th17) has been recently identified as a distinct Th lineage mediating tissue inflammation. Retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor gamma (ROR gamma) was shown to regulate Th17 differentiation; ROR gamma deficiency, however, did not completely abolish Th17 cytokine expression. Here, we report Th17 cells highly expressed another related nuclear receptor, ROR alpha, induced by transforming growth factor-beta and interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is dependent on signal transducer and activator of transcription 3. Overexpression of ROR alpha promoted Th17 differentiation, possibly through the conserved noncoding sequence 2 in Il17-Il17f locus. ROR alpha deficiency resulted in reduced IL-17 expression in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, ROR alpha and ROR gamma coexpression synergistically led to greater Th17 differentiation. Double deficiencies in ROR alpha and ROR gamma globally impaired Th17 generation and completely protected mice against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Therefore, Th17 differentiation is directed by two lineage-specific nuclear receptors, ROR alpha and ROR gamma.
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              Regulation of Circadian Behavior and Metabolism by Rev-erbα and Rev-erbβ

              The circadian clock acts at the genomic level to coordinate internal behavioral and physiologic rhythms via the CLOCK-BMAL transcriptional heterodimer. Although the nuclear receptors REV-ERBα and β have been proposed to form an accessory feedback loop that contributes to clock function 1,2 , their precise roles and importance remain unresolved. To establish their regulatory potential we generated comparative cistromes of both REV-ERB isoforms, which revealed shared recognition at over 50% of their total sites and extensive overlap with the master circadian regulator BMAL1. While Rev-erbα has been shown to directly regulate Bmal1 expression 1,2 , the cistromic analysis reveals a direct connection between Bmal1 and Rev-erbα and β regulatory circuits than previously suspected. Genes within the intersection of the BMAL1, REV-ERBα and REV-ERBβ cistromes are highly enriched for both clock and metabolic functions. As predicted by the cistromic analysis, dual depletion of Rev-erbα/β function by creating double-knockout mice (DKOs) profoundly disrupted circadian expression of core circadian clock and lipid homeostatic gene networks. As a result, DKOs show strikingly altered circadian wheel-running behavior and deregulated lipid metabolism. These data now ally Rev-erbα/β with Per, Cry and other components of the principal feedback loop that drives circadian expression and suggest a more integral mechanism for the coordination of circadian rhythm and metabolism.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Genet
                PLoS Genet
                PLoS Genetics
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                May 2014
                15 May 2014
                : 10
                : 5
                [1 ]Cell Biology Section, Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, United States of America
                [2 ]Systems Biology Group, Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, United States of America
                Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
                Author notes

                The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: YT HSK RJ AMJ. Performed the experiments: YT HSK LMD. Analyzed the data: RJ JF. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: YT HSK RJ JF. Wrote the paper: YT AMJ HSK RJ.


                This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

                Page count
                Pages: 16
                This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institutes of Health [Z01-ES-101586] and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Biology and life sciences
                Cell Biology
                Chromosome Biology
                Molecular Cell Biology
                Computational Biology
                Gene Regulatory Networks
                Carbohydrate Metabolism
                Regulatory Proteins
                Physiological Parameters
                Body Weight
                Gene expression
                DNA transcription
                Gene regulation
                Functional Genomics
                Molecular Genetics
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Diabetic Endocrinology
                Metabolic Disorders
                Diabetes Mellitus
                Type 2 Diabetes



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