Polysome Profiling in Liver Identifies Dynamic Regulation of Endoplasmic Reticulum Translatome by Obesity and Fasting
Obesity-associated metabolic complications are generally considered to emerge from abnormalities in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, whereas the status of protein metabolism is not well studied. Here, we performed comparative polysome and associated transcriptional profiling analyses to study the dynamics and functional implications of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)–associated protein synthesis in the mouse liver under conditions of obesity and nutrient deprivation. We discovered that ER from livers of obese mice exhibits a general reduction in protein synthesis, and comprehensive analysis of polysome-bound transcripts revealed extensive down-regulation of protein synthesis machinery, mitochondrial components, and bile acid metabolism in the obese translatome. Nutrient availability also plays an important but distinct role in remodeling the hepatic ER translatome in lean and obese mice. Fasting in obese mice partially reversed the overall translatomic differences between lean and obese nonfasted controls, whereas fasting of the lean mice mimicked many of the translatomic changes induced by the development of obesity. The strongest examples of such regulations were the reduction in Cyp7b1 and Slco1a1, molecules involved in bile acid metabolism. Exogenous expression of either gene significantly lowered plasma glucose levels, improved hepatic steatosis, but also caused cholestasis, indicating the fine balance bile acids play in regulating metabolism and health. Together, our work defines dynamic regulation of the liver translatome by obesity and nutrient availability, and it identifies a novel role for bile acid metabolism in the pathogenesis of metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity. Chronic diseases including obesity and associated metabolic abnormalities have become the greatest threat to human health worldwide. How metabolic organs and organelles adapt to nutritional fluctuations, or fail to do so, remains incompletely understood. To explore these issues, we developed a new platform to explore translational responses in the liver, a critical organ for metabolic homeostasis. In this translatomic platform, we integrated polysome profiling and global analysis of polysome-associated mRNAs to systematically quantify protein synthesis on each transcript in obesity and during fasting. Our analysis demonstrated for the first time that protein synthesis is progressively suppressed in the obese liver and that the overall translatome profile of obese liver markedly resembles that of fasting lean mice, particularly in mitochondrial function and bile metabolism. We also examined the physiological impact of some of these alterations and concluded that aberrant bile acid metabolism in the obese liver represents a novel mechanism contributing to hyperglycemia and continuous weight gain. Together, our work reveals abnormal translational regulation as a novel aspect of obesity that could impact future directions in metabolic disease treatment, and we believe translatome profiling represents a new approach to unravel complex mechanisms regulating cellular function and disease pathology.