alpha(1)-Antitrypsin (alpha(1)-AT) is a serum protease inhibitor that is synthesized mainly in the liver, and its rate of synthesis markedly increases in response to inflammation. This increase in alpha(1)-AT synthesis results in an increase in peptides, like its carboxyl-terminal C-36 peptide (C-36), resulting from alpha(1)-AT cleavage by proteases. Atherosclerosis is a form of chronic inflammation, and one of the risk factors is elevated plasma cholesterol levels. Because of the correlation between atherosclerosis, plasma cholesterol content, inflammation, and alpha(1)-AT rate of synthesis, we investigated the effect of the C-36 serpin peptide on hepatic bile acid biosynthesis. We discovered that C-36 is a powerful and specific transcriptional down-regulator of bile acid synthesis in primary rat hepatocytes, through inhibition of the cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase/CYP7A1 (7alpha-hydroxylase) promoter. Mice injected with the C-36 peptide also showed a decrease in 7alpha-hydroxylase mRNA. A mutated but very similar peptide did not have any effect on 7alpha-hydroxylase mRNA or its promoter. The sterol 12alpha-hydroxylase/ CYP8B1 (12alpha-hydroxylase) promoter is also down-regulated by the C-36 peptide in HepG2 cells but not by the mutated peptide. The DNA element involved in the C-36-mediated regulation of 7alpha- and 12a-hydroxylase promoters mapped to the alpha(1)-fetoprotein transcription factor (FTF) site in both promoters. The C-36 peptide prevented binding of FTF to its target DNA recognition site by direct interaction with FTF. We hypothesize that the C-36 peptide specifically interacts with FTF and induces a conformational change that results in loss of its DNA binding ability, which results in suppression of 7alpha- and 12alpha-hydroxylase transcription. These results suggest that peptides derived from specific serum proteins may alter hepatic gene expression in a highly specific manner.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Rheumatology and Autoimmunity