Although human genetic studies have implicated many susceptible genes associated with plasma lipid levels, their physiological and molecular functions are not fully characterized. Here we demonstrate that orphan G protein-coupled receptor 146 (GPR146) promotes activity of hepatic sterol regulatory element binding protein 2 (SREBP2) through activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway, thereby regulating hepatic very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) secretion, and subsequently circulating low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides (TG) levels. Remarkably, GPR146 deficiency reduces plasma cholesterol levels substantially in both wild-type and LDL receptor (LDLR)-deficient mice. Finally, aortic atherosclerotic lesions are reduced by 90% and 70%, respectively, in male and female LDLR-deficient mice upon GPR146 depletion. Taken together, these findings outline a regulatory role for the GPR146/ERK axis in systemic cholesterol metabolism and suggest that GPR146 inhibition could be an effective strategy to reduce plasma cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis.
- SREBP2 pathway
- orphan G protein-coupled receptor 146