Oxysterols are oxidized derivatives of cholesterol that play regulatory roles in lipid biosynthesis and homeostasis. How oxysterol signaling coordinates different lipid classes such as sterols and triglycerides remains incompletely understood. Here, we show that 4β-hydroxycholesterol (HC) (4β-HC), a liver and serum abundant oxysterol of poorly defined functions, is a potent and selective inducer of the master lipogenic transcription factor, SREBP1c, but not the related steroidogenic transcription factor SREBP2. By correlating tracing of lipid synthesis with lipogenic gene expression profiling, we found that 4β-HC acts as a putative agonist for the liver X receptor (LXR), a sterol sensor and transcriptional regulator previously linked to SREBP1c activation. Unique among the oxysterol agonists of the LXR, 4β-HC induced expression of the lipogenic program downstream of SREBP1c and triggered de novo lipogenesis both in primary hepatocytes and in the mouse liver. In addition, 4β-HC acted in parallel to insulin-PI3K-dependent signaling to stimulate triglyceride synthesis and lipid-droplet accumulation. Thus, 4β-HC is an endogenous regulator of de novo lipogenesis through the LXRSREBP1c axis.
- Lipid droplets